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26 April 2017

Francis Crick Institute Named 2017 Laboratory of the Year

 ©Chris Ansell/DiffusedLight Photography

The Francis Crick Institute, which opened last year in central London as one of Europe’s largest biomedical and translational research centers, has been named R&D Magazine’s 2017 Laboratory of the Year.

The 980,000-sq.-ft. Francis Crick Institute represents a paradigm shift for biomedical research in the UK and the global research community. Named after Francis Crick, the scientist who helped discover the structure of DNA, the institute is a landmark partnership between the UK’s three largest funders of biomedical research—the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust—and three of its leading universities: University College London, Imperial College London and King’s College London.

More than just sharing a building, these organizations have partnered as a diverse community of researchers working together in interdisciplinary teams. One of the Crick’s strategic priorities—“pursue discovery without boundaries”—emphasizes the importance of its workplace environment. Its researchers are encouraged to explore their scientific curiosities, with almost no idea being off limits.

HOK was the architect and ‎lead designer responsible for the Francis Crick Institute’s overall design concept, lab planning, interior design and landscape architecture. PLP collaborated with HOK in shaping the building’s distinctive form and architectural expression.

Francis Crick Institute 3

©Paul Grundy

The design encourages collaboration and interaction among multidisciplinary researchers including biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians. The facility is divided into four lab neighborhoods connected by two atria. The atria cross at the center of the building to create a hub with break areas, informal collaboration space, a large central stair and a concierge serving the entire floor. Walkways and informal meeting areas crisscross the main atrium and connect neighborhoods.

The atria bring daylight into all of the labs and other spaces. Glass walls allow for views into labs, promoting transparency and openness. Unless specific functions require closed walls, lab neighborhoods are open to encourage interaction.

Designed with flexibility, lab neighborhoods can support rapid reconfiguration as research programs change. A centralized service distribution system enables a kit-of-parts approach in which predetermined components can be plugged into service spines in different combinations.

Francis Crick Institute 4

©Paul Grundy

Now in its 51st year, the Laboratory of the Year Awards recognize excellence in research laboratory design, planning and construction. Judging of the annual international competition was conducted by a blue-ribbon panel of laboratory architects, engineers, equipment manufacturers, researchers and the editors of R&D Magazine and Laboratory Design. A complete profile of the Francis Crick Institute will appear in the May/June 2017 issues of R&D Magazine and Laboratory Design.

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