The Francis Crick Institute won the prestigious Investment in London’s Future prize at the fifth annual London First Awards. The awards honour key individuals, activities and projects that have contributed to making London a better city in which to work, study and play.
As a Centre for Excellence for biomedical research in Western Europe, the Francis Crick Institute will keep the UK at the forefront of innovation in discovery research, attracting world-class talent and high-value investment to London and the UK.
The facility is the result of an unprecedented partnership between six of the world’s leading biomedical and academic organisations. When it opens in summer 2016, it will be one of the most significant developments in the UK for biomedical science, driving better treatment and prevention of illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.
HOK, with PLP Architecture, has designed the Institute’s 980,000-sq.-ft. flagship building to be highly interactive and open, with seven floors of laboratories specifically designed to promote interdisciplinary work and to encourage collaboration between scientists and researchers. To support this innovative approach, flexible laboratory and workspaces are articulated around a cross shape of four laboratory ‘neighbourhoods’, which are connected by two atria and shared breakout spaces.
HOK was appointed architect and lead designer following an international competition in 2008 and was responsible for the overall design concept that emphasises openness, collaborative teamwork and innovative laboratory planning. HOK carried these concepts through into the interior design and external landscaping. PLP was appointed in 2010 to collaborate with HOK. Its role included shaping the building into a civic landmark through its distinctive form and its striking architectural expression.
The project team’s design solutions ensure that the building will be able to adapt to new scientific demands. Laboratories will be flexible to allow conversion for new uses and grouped around a communal space so that scientists can share ideas. Large, cantilevered bay windows and tall glass atria will maintain natural light in workspaces and public areas whilst reducing the building’s impact at street level. To support this, one-third of the accommodation is below ground while its curved roof presents a gentle face to the community. Internally, glass walls maximise daylight and views into and through laboratories, promoting visual permeability throughout the building.
“When the Francis Crick Institute opens, it will be the largest and most advanced research facility of its kind in Europe,” said Larry Malcic, Design Principal in HOK’s London office. “Science is constantly evolving and therefore requires a highly collaborative environment to facilitate scientific breakthroughs. We are delighted that our holistic design solutions will aid in these new discoveries and keep London at the forefront of innovative medical research.”