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.