Current and former GlaxoSmithKline employees said good-bye yesterday to the company's Elion-Hitchings Building, one of Research Triangle Park's most iconic landmarks.
About 350 people came out for the event, which encouraged employees to share memories of the building and allowed them to take unlimited pictures inside and out. Employees previously needed permission from security for photos, said GlaxoSmithKline spokesman Robert Sutton.
The event also featured a screening of the 1983 sci-fi thriller "Brainstorm," which starred actor Christopher Walken and actress Natalie Wood in her last film. The Elion-Hitchings building's futuristic interior was used as the set for the movie.
"The movie wasn't what was important," Sutton said. "It was mainly the building that people were there to see. The highlight was the interaction and the reuniting with old friends and colleagues."
The building's last group of employees was moved from the space about a month ago, part of an effort to consolidate workers to the company's Moore Drive campus in RTP to save money.
Architect Paul Rudolph finished the 300,000-square-foot hexagonal structure in 1972 to serve as the Burroughs Wellcome Company's corporate headquarters. Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham merged in 2000 to become GSK.
Rudolph was brought back in 1982 to design a 100,000-square-foot annex of extra office space and a cafeteria. The building had a capacity of about 1,000 employees, Sutton said.
"Going to lunch those first few weeks, I purposely went to and from the cafeteria a different way each time to get lost and find my way around the building," said Sutton, who has been with the company for 28 years. "Just because of that unique shape, it was really kind of a magical journey."
The Elion-Hitchings building has been for sale since the company announced in June 2010 they planned to consolidate their employees. Sutton said GSK has not reached a final agreement with any sellers.