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Celebrating 60 Years of Design + Innovation

World-Changing Research in the Heart of London

The Francis Crick Institute
London, UK

“The Francis Crick Institute will be one of the most significant developments in UK biomedical science for a generation.”

David Cameron
Prime Minister, United Kingdom

When it opens in central London in 2016, the Francis Crick Institute will accommodate 1,500 researchers and support staff and be Europe’s largest center for biomedical research.

In the new institute, multidisciplinary groups of researchers including biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians will collaborate to study how diseases develop and to search for new ways to diagnose, prevent and treat a range of illnesses.

“It’s a completely new way of trying to understand how life works and it’s going to be a fantastic success,” said Dr. Jim Smith, director at the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research.

As lead architect, HOK designed a scientific facility that encourages collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation. The interior balances the need to provide formal research areas with a mix of informal break-out areas that draw together people from different research organizations and teams.

Coming through the main entry, visitors experience public space including a reception area, a café, exhibition areas, a teaching lab with a glass front at street level and a 450-seat auditorium. 

The design creates two long hallways separated by an atrium and, near the center, a cross atrium that divides each floor into distinct but interconnected neighborhoods. Walkways crisscrossing above the atrium connect labs to meeting spaces. An intersection of the two atria on each floor offers a socializing area with work and lounge spaces. Glass walls allow for views into labs, which are flexible to change along with science and technology over time.

Developed in collaboration with PLP Architecture, the exterior design responds to the area’s architectural heritage while respecting residential communities to the north and west. Both the masonry and the distinctive vaulted roof recall features of the adjacent St. Pancras International station. The large, cantilevered bay windows and the tall glass atria reduce the impact of the building at street level and provide daylight in work and public areas.

Named for 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: UCL; Imperial College London and King’s College London.

“Buildings cannot cure cancer or solve the threat from antibiotic-resistant diseases,” wrote Rich Heap on UBM’s Future cities website. “But the design of buildings can help the scientists who try to. That is the hope of the six partners behind the Francis Crick Institute in London.”



BREEAM Excellent anticipated


635,000 sq. ft. / 59,000 sq. m.


Interior Design
Laboratory Planning
Site Planning


Number of research staff who can use the facility


Size, in square feet, of the institute’s barrier research facility


Size, in square feet, of the institute’s biocontainment space (BSL-3 or higher)



28 April 2014
“Research Engine”
HOK News

6 August 2013
“Large Biomedical Institute Under Construction in London”
Civil Engineering 

10 June 2013
“For the Crick, Sharing is Curing”
UBM Future Cities

10 June 2013
“London’s Francis Crick Institute Will Be New World Hub for Medical Research”
HOK News 

31 October 2012
“The Francis Crick Institute: Biomedical Research Without Barriers”