1,600 people in 24 cities living 4 values for 1 goal:
To use design to help our clients succeed.

We create exceptional environments that meet our clients' most complex design challenges.

We inspire people through our work by expressing timeless cultural, organizational and personal values.

We connect people and place with ideas that come from many minds and imaginations.

We care about serving our clients, enriching lives, improving communities and protecting our natural environment through design.

We are a global architecture, design, engineering and planning firm.

60+ Years of Design + Innovation

R&D Magazine's 2017 Laboratory of the Year

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

Six visionary medical research and educational organizations partnered to form the Francis Crick Institute, Europe’s largest and most ambitious biomedical research facility.

The partnership includes the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust, 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.

Breaking with traditional governance and tenure structures, the Crick represents a major paradigm shift for biomedical research in the global scientific community. Its researchers are free to follow their own instincts and direction, with no departments or tenure. Almost no idea is off limits, and there is only limited intellectual property. Discoveries are shared openly with the rest of the world. 

To promote this innovative approach, the design creates easily adaptable and multidisciplinary research environments. The building can flex to meet its inhabitants’ continuously changing needs.

The concepts of visibility and collaboration are central to the design. The building is composed of four blocks separated by a main east-west atrium and the smaller north-south transverse atrium. The main atrium’s cathedral-like scale is interrupted by the transverse atria where, on each level, one-third of the floor area is left open to create a double-height relationship with the adjacent floorplate and provide strong visual connections between floors. The junction of the two atria is dedicated to informal collaboration, breakout and administrative support spaces—all connected by a continuous open stair.

The linear arrangement of lab neighborhoods optimizes visual permeability, offering views across the atrium into the write-up areas and through the primary labs. These 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.

The scope and range of the Crick’s core facilities, which house services and technologies used by the entire research community, are unique. The proportion of shared core areas to primary and secondary lab facilities is nearly 50 percent—significantly higher than what is found at most research facilities.

The building site is in the heart of central London’s existing scientific community, where it anchors a local hub of research facilities. These proximities fuel collaboration and innovation.

Among the technical challenges was designing for sensitive lab equipment on an urban site. Special design measures provide equipment bases that achieve near-zero vibration criteria.

The building was certified BREEAM Excellent for environmental sustainability.

HOK served as architect and ‎lead designer responsible for the project’s overall design concept, interior design, lab planning and landscape architecture. PLP collaborated with HOK in shaping the building’s distinctive form and striking architectural expression. 

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


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

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”