The building is designed in response both to its civic neighbours to the east and the finer grained residential buildings to the west. The design incorporates an elegant vaulted roof which sweeps across the building in two half shells - the taller one to the south and the lower to the north. The vault is gently curved east to west to reduce the scale of the building at its edges. The northern wing on Brill Place steps down towards the lower scale residential buildings to its north.
A high quality palette of natural materials is employed. The building's base is clad with warm-tone terracotta set below the metal and glass vaulted roof. The elevations relate to the similar palette of the adjacent St. Pancras Station establishing a hierarchy of base, body and roof.
The architecture celebrates the public programme offered by UKCMRI. Public facilities, social spaces, meeting and dining areas are located at ground floor enlivening the street frontages for passers-by. The primary and secondary labs are arranged in four neighbourhoods over four upper floors linked by atria floor plates providing opportunities for casual and formal collaboration between research scientists pursuing diverse science programmes. The design of the primary laboratories is based on a kit of parts approach which provides for future flexibility and adaptability as the science needs evolve and change.
Sustainability principles are embedded in the design and operational concept for UKCMRI. The development will achieve a rating of BREEAM Excellent. UKCMRI is being designed to comply with Building Regulations Part L 2010, which involve an aggregate 25% improvement in CO2 emission over the earlier 2006 Building Regulations. Each façade has been carefully designed to consider the environmental impact of orientation, minimising solar heat gain while maximising daylight availability and permeability. 1,700 sq m of photovoltaics are integrated into the roof enclosure on the southern orientation.