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Putting Science on Display

The Francis Crick Institute
London, UK

“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

The design enriches the Francis Crick Institute’s educational mission and encourages open sourcing of research solutions by providing spaces that display the science taking place inside the building.

As one of Europe’s largest biomedical and translational research centers and R&D Magazine’s 2017 Laboratory of the Year, the facility is composed of four “lab neighborhoods” separated by a main east-west atrium and a smaller north-south, transverse atrium.

The atria bring daylight into all labs while enhancing the visibility of the Crick’s researchers. Glass walls allow for views into labs, promoting transparency and openness. Unless specific functions require closed walls, lab neighborhoods are open.

A conference center and 450-seat auditorium accommodate scientific conferences in which the Crick’s researchers can share their activities. Visiting members of the larger scientific community can do the same. The auditorium’s pre-function space acts as an interactive science exhibit, displaying basic information on human health and highlighting the Crick’s latest discoveries. Highly visible from the street, this space stays open to the public even when there isn’t a planned function.

Located in a prominent and highly visible location at the front of the building, a teaching lab and support spaces host ongoing classes for children and educators. Glass cases at the building’s entry display scientific artifacts.

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.


Graphic Design
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

European Healthcare Design Awards – Health and Life Sciences Design Award

RTPI National Awards for Planning Excellence – Excellence in Planning to Create an Economically Successful Place
and Silver Jubilee Cup


Number of employees


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



21 June 2017
“Francis Crick Institute”
Contract Magazine

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”