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2017 Laboratory of the Year

The Francis Crick Institute
London, UK

Image courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Image courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Image courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Image courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Image courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Image courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Image courtesy of Laing O'Rourke

Image courtesy of Laing O'Rourke

“A fantastic state-of-the-art new home for the Crick has been built ... it will be the discoveries we make here that cement our place in London, in the UK and at the forefront of science worldwide.”

Sir Paul Nurse
Director, Francis Crick Institute

Six leading medical research and educational organizations have partnered to form the Francis Crick Institute, one of Europe’s largest biomedical and translational research centers. 

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.

Located in central London, the steel, glass and terra-cotta clad building occupies a full city block and creates 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 multidisciplinary researchers including biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians.

The facility is divided into four “laboratory 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 while enhancing the visibility of people throughout the building and between floors. 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.

R&D Magazine named the Francis Crick Institute its 2017 Laboratory of the Year.

In 2008, HOK was appointed architect and ‎lead designer responsible for the project’s overall design concept, interior design, lab planning and landscape architecture. PLP was selected in 2010 to collaborate with HOK in shaping the building’s distinctive form and striking architectural expression. 


BREEAM Excellent


980,000 sq. ft. / 91,000 sq. m.


Interior Design
Laboratory Planning
Site Planning


R&D Magazine – Lab of the Year

London First – London’s Greatest Research & Development Prize Winner

London First – Investment in London’s Future Award Winner


Number of employees


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



7 June 2017
“Lab of the Year Awards”
Laboratory Design News

26 April 2017
“Francis Crick Institute Named Laboratory of the Year”
HOK News

5 December 2016
“Francis Crick Institute”

7 October 2016
“Crick Institute”

1 September 2016
“Scientists Begin Moving Into London’s New Francis Crick Institute”
HOK News

5 August 2016
“Building Work is Complete at Europe’s Biggest Biomedical Facility”
BBC Radio

4 August 2016
“Cancer Research Chief Urges London to Draw in Top Worldwide Scientists Post-Brexit”
Evening Standard

12 July 2016
“Building Information Modeling”
ALN Magazine

16 June 2016
“How HOK Achieved Design Consensus for London’s Francis Crick Institute”
Building Design + Construction

16 May 2016
“This Building Forces Divergent Scientists to Mingle”

3 February 2016
“Architecture: The Crick Institute Unpeeled”

25 September 2015
“HOK Recognises Importance of Collaborative Work Style”
Property Week

23 June 2015
“Europe’s Superlab: St. Paul’s Cathedral”