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The Francis Crick Institute (previously known as the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation, or UKCMRI), is an interdisciplinary medical research centre developed in London, UK.
It is located in Somers Town in the borough of Camden. The institute is the largest centre for the research and development on biomedical sciences in Europe. The project was conceived in December 2007 and construction began in July 2011.
The research and innovation centre was inaugurated by Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in November 2016.
The institute has approximately 1,250 scientists from various disciplines worldwide and 250 other staff. The institute researches on interpreting the causes of heart diseases, stroke, cancers, infections and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as develop innovative solutions for their treatment. The centre works with leading UK hospitals. Physicists, biologists, engineers, chemists, mathematicians and computer scientists will focus on rapidly turning the discoveries at laboratories into treatment developments.
The UKCMRI was renamed the Francis Crick Institute in May 2011, in the honour of the British neuroscientist, biophysicist and molecular biologist Francis Crick.
The institute is a world-class medical research facility. It is expected to improve lives and attract medical research innovation investments into the UK.
Developers and partners associated with the London-based institute
The Francis Crick Institute was set up by consortium partners, including University College London (UCL), the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust, Imperial College London and King’s College London. The consortium invested £650m into the project. The Francis Crick Institute is expected to require approximately £100m a year to remain operational.
Research institute site in the centre of the capital city
The 15-storey Francis Crick Institute was built on a 3.6-acre site at Brill Place, in the Somers Town and St Pancras area. It is located beside the St. Pancras International Station and British Library in Central London.
The Francis Crick Institute design
The institute provides approximately 91,000m² of space for biomedical research and development. The facility is designed to exceed the biosafety level three standards.
It conducts research on cancer cells, various flu viruses, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV to develop vaccines.
The terracotta clad facility is designed to portray its significance in the prime historic location and also create favourable working conditions for the staff. The laboratories are housed in four quadrants of the building. A scaled transverse atrium provides views of the building interiors and allows flow of natural light. Its lowered roof design reduces the scale of the project and house cooling and heating units along with solar panels. A sequence of double height rooms connected by the transverse atria provides employees with meeting areas. Ground level is occupied with public elements.
The sustainable research centre houses a two-storey, 450m² healthy living centre. The facility overlooking the Ossulston Street is dedicated to improving health and well-being of local inhabitants. It includes two training and meeting rooms, health-check rooms, sports and physical activity areas, a kitchen and a reception. The local residents, The Francis Crick Institute, Hopscotch, New Horizon Youth Centre, Training Link, Camden Council and Somers Town Community Centre run the facility.
Other associated developments at the UKCMRI in Camden
The project includes a £1.7m allocation towards improvement of housing in the council through Camden’s Better Homes programme, a £3.8m on-site power plant, provision of apprentices during construction, funding on community safety, a teaching laboratory, public involvement in science programmes, a 450-seat auditorium and exhibition space, improvements to community spaces, voluntary educational programmes, a pedestrian and cycle access way, as well as aid for local businesses through the purchasing goods and services.
Contractors involved with the interdisciplinary medical research centre project
The striking building of the Francis Crick Institute has been designed by HOK in partnership with PLP Architecture. Local public consultation and views from the scientists, community groups and residents were considered for its design.
Laing O’Rourke was the main contractor and the contract value is about £350m. URS was the environmental engineer. Arup was the mechanical, electrical, public health engineer and was also responsible for project management. Adams Kara Taylor was the structural engineer and Turner and Townsend was the cost consultant.
The original design was opposed by the local community, who objected to the concept of such a massive centre within a city that is facing land scarcity. Their opposition increased as the site was earlier rejected to accommodate public housing. Concerns over the building becoming a potential target for possible terrorist attacks were also raised. The scale of the building was subsequently reduced, following a number of design revisions.
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