Construction with a Life-saving Mission

Not everyone can say that what they do for their 9-5 job saves lives. But for Pete Herold, Cannon Building’s Facilities and Construction Management Lead for the Scripps Research project in Torrey Pines, California, that could in fact be true. Herold finds the mission of the organization inspiring and has dedicated the last 18 years of his career to its work.

Herold says: “I like doing my part to help world-renowned researchers cure diseases. We can’t all be scientists, but we can do our part to help cure COVID and other diseases.”

This could essentially be the mantra of Herold’s long career with Scripps Research—a chapter now ending as he prepares to retire in May 2022.

Scripps Research: By the Numbers

1 world-renowned institute

2 campuses (La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL)

5 Nobel Laureates

10 approved drugs

21 members of National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine

30+ drug candidates in pipeline

50+ spin-off companies

200+ labs

1100+ U.S. patents

2400+ employees

On the Shoulders of Giants

Scripps Research is known as one of the most influential global institutions for its impact on innovation in the biosciences, expanding basic knowledge and leveraging fundamental advancements to develop profound innovative medical solutions. With a rich history of academic and scientific achievement, Scripps researchers lead studies that address the world’s most pressing health concerns, accelerating the creation and delivery of medical breakthroughs to better human health around the globe.

Its faculty and leadership have partnered to create a top-ranked nonprofit biomedical research institute that translates discoveries into new medicines. And its educational and training programs mold committed students and post-docs into the next generation of innovative scientists.

Scripps Research became a critical part of Cannon Building’s life science portfolio in San Diego, when Cannon began moving into this space in the early 2000s.

Tim Cannon, president of Cannon Building, says: “San Diego is the third largest life science cluster market in the United States, per the latest JLL2021 Life Sciences Lab Real Estate Outlook report. The Scripps Research project was a strategic expansion of Cannon’s presence in this market, further expanding the significant work we have done in Orange County and Los Angeles in this industry. ” (Source:

Career Journey

How did Herold’s career lead to the role he currently holds at Scripps, as a Cannon Building lead? He started as an engineering consultant and then facilities manager at The Burnham Institute and was recruited from there by Scripps Research.

In 2004, he was tapped to help oversee construction at Scripps’ new campus in Jupiter, Florida. This campus and its ancillary labs and facilities took five years to build and remains one of the crowning achievements of Herold’s career.

“It sits on 30 acres of the last natural land in Palm Beach County, all kinds of wildlife and natural beauty—offering another space for Scripps to do its life-saving work.”

The campus opened in 2009 and was just sold to the University of Florida in early April 2022. During the time that Scripps was building the Florida campus, Herold also oversaw the construction, maintenance, security, and environmental services on the La Jolla Campus. Along the way, Herold has met a few Nobel Laureates and helped to move them into their personal labs for their various research projects. At Scripps, these scientists also run the business, overseeing the funding and operating budget—negotiating expansions and making detailed facility decisions.

The most memorable Cannon project he has supported was the lab buildout for Dennis Burton, who was was working on ground-breaking HIV research (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). This research then dovetailed into COVID-19 research when the global pandemic hit.

Cannon Building entered the scene as a general contractor to support a few of these Scripps facility projects—lab remodeling, infrastructure replacement, and maintenance work. The biggest project they have undertaken to date is the MBB electrical infrastructure work, which kicked off on April 5, 2022. This is an electrical retrofit job, replacing legacy emergency generators and electrical systems; the project completion date is currently scheduled for November 2022.


What the Future Holds…

Where Scripps may have recently turned over operation of their Florida campus to University of Florida, there are plenty of exciting things happening on the Torrey Pines home front as several significant research studies are in the pipeline for drug development. The California Institute for Biological Research (CALIBR) is taking more of a strategic role within Scripps and soon moving onto the main campus, with a business goal of focusing on translational lab research that uses philanthropic funds to move new drugs to market in a more streamlined, efficient way.
And as for Pete Herold, he considers his work with Scripps Research a great concluding chapter of his career.

“I love working here,” says Herold. “Aligning my engineering and facilities management expertise to support a company with such a great mission—I find it meaningful and fulfilling.”