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Francis Crick Institute completes

Nick Myall
Tuesday 16 Aug 2016

Building work finishes at leading biomedical research facility The Francis Crick Institute at King’s Cross, London

Construction work has finished on the Francis Crick Institute, designed by HOK and PLP Architecture, a centre of excellence in the field of biomedical research, a stone’s throw away from St Pancras International and King's Cross railway stations in London, UK.  By bringing together scientists from many disciplines, the Crick seeks to improve people’s lives by understanding the biology underpinning human health and diseases.

Housing over 1,500 staff, 1,250 of whom will be scientists, countless opportunities will be uncovered that are fundamental to biological discoveries in health and disease. The Francis Crick Institute will be one of Europe’s largest centres of biomedical research. The founding partners have invested circa £650m to establish the Institute.

HOK, as lead architect, lab planner, interior designer and landscape architect, worked with PLP Architecture on the architectural design for the 980,000 sq ft flagship building. The building form is arranged as four ‘laboratory neighbourhoods’ across three floors connected by two atria and multiple communal breakout spaces, to foster interdisciplinary collaboration. The workspace is spread across seven floors in total, designed to be highly flexible, responding to the changing needs and rapid developments of scientific discovery.

 “In every sense possible, collaboration and teamwork have been essential to the long-term success and delivery of the Francis Crick Institute. Unlike traditional institutional approaches of closed doors and high walls, science is firmly on display, both inside and outside the building.  Openness is celebrated with the overlapping floorplates and bridges, designed to encourage creative interaction through incidental meetings of opportunity, as much as practical circulation,” commented David King, Director and Senior Vice President, HOK. 

With flexibility a key driver, civil and structural engineer AKT II’s design for the reinforced concrete frame was enhanced to minimise the sensitivity to vibration across the whole building. This was further refined by unique research into the structural behaviour of prefabricated concrete frame elements, allowing the benefits of offsite manufacturing to be realised. This created the opportunity to expose some of the precast panels as part of the internal architectural language.

 “Looking back it is clear that the collaborative knowledge sharing and applied science research principals were embodied in the interdisciplinary design and construction of the Crick; a metaphor which should be promoted by our industry,” stated Rob Partridge, Director at AKT II.

Wayne McKiernan, Director at PLP Architecture added: “The Francis Crick Institute is an extraordinary example of collaborative work. Our role was to establish the architectural expression of the building, lifting it to the status of a major civic institution, linking the Crick to other nearby landmarks and creating a world-class centre for interdisciplinary research.”

The Francis Crick Institute is the first laboratory, and one of the first buildings of any type, to be subject to the latest (2010) UK energy regulations. This has led to approximately 25% reduction in carbon levels; and achieving ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating.

Cost Consultant, Turner & Townsend has played a key role in the realisation of the Crick and has worked collaboratively throughout the delivery process. Ross Hanson, Project Director, Turner & Townsend, noted “Excellent cost and value management delivered by the project team together with the client, with pro-active risk management and strategic planning has overcome the budget challenges. I am delighted to have worked on a project that will realise significant improvements in human health.”

Laing O’Rourke utilised ‘Design for Manufacturing Assembly’ (DfMA), to deliver the core facility and its shell, as well as the general and laboratory fit-out works, and the commissioning and verification of systems that meet scientific standards. 

The importance of this building will truly be understood in years to come as ground breaking research continues, contributing to the wellbeing of humankind.

Nick Myall

News editor

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