Conroe, Texas is a growing city north of Houston that is investing in technology, life sciences, and economic development through the creation of the Deison Technology Park. As the first piece of this campus, the VGXI headquarters will provide a hub for the contract development and biopharmaceuticals manufacturing company in the area, specifically supporting plasmid DNA production for medical research and studies.
Kimley-Horn partnered with architect and prime designer Hanbury, BE&K Building Group, and HIPP Design + Consulting to plan and create this 118,000 square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility. Hanbury designed the distinctive architecture for the building, including complex custom built tilt wall panels, which our team helped bring to life. Altogether, we provided the following services for the VGXI manufacturing facility project:
Virtual Coordination and Cost-Savings
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and geographical distance between partners, extensive virtual coordination and an added layer of responsibility for teams physically located locally were leveraged to manage project phases in efficient and cost-saving ways. From performing geotechnical studies to significantly mitigate foundation costs to partnering with the client as a trusted advisor in their new expansion endeavor, our team maintained flexibility as the project plan was adapted. Cultivating our online and local partnerships, we communicated with the client about timelines and maintained design flexibility to adapt to evolving construction costs and lead times. These measures helped the project move along during a global pandemic when many projects were halting, leaving space for idea development and unique relationship-building along the way.
Efficient Permitting through the Pandemic
The Conroe VGXI manufacturing facility was planned and constructed during the pandemic, from the beginning of the contract in 2020 to the ribbon cutting in late 2022. The efficiency of the project was largely due to an innovative permitting process born from local partnerships and the unique environment created during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Phased permitting processes were new for the City of Conroe, local partners had multiple permit meetings with city staff to accelerate the process and worked with the City to leverage exceptions made during the pandemic. The client, design team, and Kimley-Horn team members coordinated virtually with local partners to have site plans printed and delivered, allowing several days for the prints to sit untouched to avoid virus transfer while still meeting deadlines. At one point during the lockdown, a Texas Kimley-Horn partner drove on a Friday afternoon to hand-deliver plans to Conroe to ensure that permitting would go through on time.
Due to this extensive coordination led by Kimley-Horn, the City granted a special exception to their standard permitting procedures to allow the sitework scope to be permitted in multiple phases just for this project. Taking advantage of this opportunity, we prepared an early sitework permit package, which allowed the contractor to commence construction on the site before the design of the full project scope was complete. The subsequent full sitework permit package was approved two months after the early sitework permit package was approved, so implementing the phased permitting approach on this project resulted in the contractor getting a two-month head start on construction.
Leveraging our strong relationship and reputation with the City of Conroe resulted in the opportunity to implement the phased permitting approach, which expedited the timeline for the VGXI project. While the VGXI manufacturing facility in the Deison Technology Park has additional phases planned, the initial finished facility serves to expand life sciences in the region and promote life-changing medical research and innovation in southeastern Texas and across the globe.