Specializing in the design of high-tech research laboratories, Kornberg Associates has grown accustomed to the needs of pharmaceutical companies. While there is a desire for a visually striking environment, it is also necessary for the facilities to be practical and functional. Such was the case for the design of Pfizer's new Global Research & Development Center in La Jolla, CA, where a variety of natural stone was chosen for the interior lobby floors in several buildings. Additionally, the exterior design includes Silver Blue slate cladding, accented by bands of Silver Shine slate.

“The design goal for the campus was to create interactive buildings and an attractive and efficient place for the kind of research that Pfizer does,” said Project Architect Ken Kornberg of Kornberg Associates in San Diego, CA. “We've worked with them before, and they appreciate our style of detailed and specialized research facilities.”

There are total of six buildings on the La Jolla-based location, with four of them featuring stone in their interior lobby design. The stone choice for each lobby varies from building to building, according to Kornberg. “It was based on a combination of color schemes and the kinds of wear and tear that was required for each condition,” he said. “We based [our selection] on color, texture and durability.”

The design team worked closely with representatives from Pfizer during the selection process. “We produced a sample board of all materials on the project, and presented them and explained why we selected the different materials,” said the architect. “If they didn't like it or had other thoughts, then we would go back and revise the schemes.”

In two of the buildings, the interior palette is a reflection of the exterior materials. Silver Blue slate with a cleft finish and polished Silver Shine slate, which were used for the facades of all six buildings on campus, were also employed as flooring in these buildings. The tiles, which were installed by East County Marble and Tile, were 12 x 12 inches with a thickness of 5⁄8 inches.

For another building, the floor features 12- x 12-inch tiles of honed Jerusalem Gold limestone accented by 3⁄8-inch trim pieces of New Colonial Dream granite, which consists of reddish/golden tones. The installation work for this portion of the project was completed by Howard's Rugs.

In the fourth building, various-sized pieces of Solnhofen fossil stone were laid in a Roman pattern. The tiles, which were installed by Sunstate, had a thickness of 3⁄8 inches.

From start to finish, each building took approximately two years to design and construct, according to Kornberg. “They were staggered about three months a part,” he said. The architect explained that the various types of stone enhanced the look of the lobbies. “Stone is a wonderful material with rich visual range and texture,” said Kornberg.

A slate palette

On the outside, all six buildings on the Pfizer campus are clad with two varieties of slate, which were supplied by Amsum & Ash of Minneapolis, MN. Silver Blue slate from Africa is the primary building material. The stone has a cleft finish and was used in 12- x 12-inch tiles. The Silver Blue slate was accented by horizontal bands formed by 6- x 24-inch pieces of Silver Shine slate from India with a polished finish.

The slate tiles were adhered over a plaster substrate, according to Kent Klaser of Klaser Tile in San Diego, CA. Tec Full Flex from Tec Specialty Products was used in the installation.

“We were on the project for a good five months or more,” said Klaser. “We did the buildings first, and then we went around again and did the site walls.” On average, about 15 workers were at the jobsite throughout the installation process.

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Pfizer Global Research & Development Center
La Jolla, CA

Architects: Kornberg Associates, San Diego, CA (interior); Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, Los Angeles, CA; Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker, San Diego, CA (exterior)
General Contractor: DPR Construction
Stone Supplier: Amsum & Ash, Minneapolis, MN (slate); Solnhofen Natural Stone (limestone)
Stone Installers: East County Marble and Tile (Campus Buildings Two and Three); Howard's Rugs (Campus Building Four); Sunstate (Campus Building Five); Klaser Tile, San Diego, CA (exterior)
Installation Products: Tec Specialty Products, Inc., Palatine, IL (exterior)