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Tracerco Reaps the Rewards of New £9m Headquarters

Tracerco Reaps the Rewards of New £9m Headquarters

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19 March 2015

A global player in oil and gas measurement and diagnostic technology has invested in new UK headquarters in order to boost its research and development offering on an international level.  

Tracerco, which has been designing and manufacturing detection, diagnostic and measurement tools for the energy market since 1958, officially opened the £9m, 61,000 square feet Measurement Technology Centre in Billingham, Teesside, in October 2014.

The project for Tracerco is supported by the Let’s Grow Fund, a £30m Regional Growth Fund programme providing grant support for capital investment and R&D projects creating or safeguarding jobs in the North East of England.

Just a few months on, the design of the new headquarters has exceeded all expectations, encouraging new employees to the company and fostering collaborative innovation.

Tracerco, which is part of the FTSE100 Johnson Matthey Plc, appointed North East architect practice Gradon Architecture to replace its existing 1960s headquarters with a bespoke, flagship building fitting for its ambitious growth plans for the future.

"We needed a world-class facility and that is what we have,” says Mark Pemberton, Finance Director at Tracerco. "Our headquarters stands out as best in class – it is a fantastic piece of architecture. We now have a headquarters that is a clear indicator to clients and potential employees alike that we are serious about future growth.”

Despite an unassuming exterior, what Gradon Architecture came up with for Tracerco is a bespoke building that works perfectly to facilitate the manufacture, design and testing of some of the world’s most advanced oil and gas industry technology, such as the company’s Discovery™ , the world’s first subsea CT scanner.

The award-winning Discovery™ allows oil companies to inspect subsea pipelines for integrity issues such as wall loss or flow assurance issues such as deposits or blockages from the outside without the need to remove protective coatings.

Graeme Kirkley, Senior Architectural Technologist, at Gradon Architecture, who led the design team on the Measurement Technology Centre architecture project, says: "The components to Tracerco’s business are hugely varied. There were offices, laboratories, and a safe storage area all to consider in the design. Not to mention a 30,000 litre underwater testing tank designed specifically for Tracerco’s unique subsea technologies.”

The new Tracerco headquarters consists of four buildings: offices and meeting rooms, the Subsea Technologies Test Centre, the Instrument Test Centre and Technology Development, united by an impressive central atrium. Housing more than 200 employees, the development, built by Clugston Construction, came in on time and on budget: a huge success given the scale and complexities of the project.

The open-plan atrium’s central position is specifically to act as a hub to unite the buildings, allowing staff from all departments to come together in an inspiring space filled with natural light. This innovative space has been pivotal to the success of the new headquarters, transforming working practices.

"The atrium has encouraged unity and collaboration, which has increased productivity no end,” says Tracerco’s Mark Pemberton. "What’s more, it has enhanced wider working conditions; with meetings now in the atrium, offices are quiet and work goes ahead uninterrupted.

"Plus, it has the wow factor. Visitors can’t help but be impressed.”

The building needed to complement Tracerco’s long standing image as leaders in novel measurement and diagnostic innovations, part of the Tracerco excellence brand. In addition, in order to maintain this position and due to high demand for their step out products and services, the Measurement Technology Centre plays an important role in attracting and recruiting the very best, physicists, chemists, mathematicians and engineers as the business grows. Indeed, since the construction of the Measurement Technology Centre, Tracerco has hired 50 new recruits.

"Our new building is a big tick in the box for candidates. There’s no doubt it has aided our recruitment process,” adds Mark Pemberton. Clients, meanwhile, are also impressed. Gradon’s designs ensure visitors see first-hand Tracerco’s investment into world-class R&D facilities. Strategically positioned glass partitions act as windows onto product design and testing areas, giving a glimpse into the cutting-edge technology constantly being developed and tested in the building.

"From the outside it looks relatively simple, but there is no other facility in the world like it,” says Graeme Kirkley. "To ensure long-term value for money, we made sure to futureproof designs, creating a headquarters built to last. Each of the three blocks surrounding the atrium has the space and scope to be easily expanded as and when the business grows.”

Graham McDarby, design director at Gradon Architecture, adds: "Throughout the project we worked closely with Tracerco to create a building that would not only reflect Tracerco’s values of excellence and innovation, but also match its ambition for future expansion as a world-leading technology company.

"We think we’ve achieved that and look forward to seeing Tracerco grow and prosper in the years to come.”