“The Francis Crick Institute will be one of the most significant developments in UK biomedical science for a generation.”
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).
“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.
Located in central London, the building facilitates collaboration among multidisciplinary groups of researchers including biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians. The steel, glass and terra-cotta clad building occupies a full city block, creating strong architectural links to historic local buildings.
Large, cantilevered bay windows and tall glass atria reduce the building’s impact at street level and maintain natural light in workspaces and public areas. To reduce its visible mass, one-third of the structure is below ground while the curved roof presents a gentle face to the community.
The design encourages collaboration and interaction among researchers with four “laboratory neighborhoods” connected by two atria. The atria bring daylight into all of the labs and other spaces while enhancing visibility. Glass walls allow for views into labs, promoting transparency and openness. Unless specific functions require closed walls, lab neighborhoods are open to encourage interaction.
“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
980,000 sq. ft. / 91,000 sq. m.
Number of employees
Size, in square feet, of the institute’s biocontainment space (BSL-3 or higher)
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