The Francis Crick Institute, London, United Kingdom

The Francis Crick Institute (previously known as the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation, or UKCMRI), is an interdisciplinary medical research centre being developed in London, UK.

It is located in Somers Town in the borough of Camden. The institute will be the largest centre for research and development on biomedical sciences in Europe. The project was conceived in December 2007 and construction began in July 2011. It is expected to be operational in early-2016.

The institute will have about 1,250 scientists from various disciplines across the globe and 250 other staff. The institute will research on interpreting the causes of heart diseases, stroke, cancers, infections and neurodegenerative diseases, plus develop innovative solutions for their treatment. The centre will work 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 will be 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 is being 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 is funding the estimated investment of £650m for the project. The Francis Crick Institute is expected to require spending of about £100m a year for its operations.

Research institute site in the centre of the capital city

The 15-storey Francis Crick Institute is being 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 will provide about 91,000 square metres of space for biomedical research and development. The facility will be designed to exceed the biosafety level three standards.

It will conduct 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 will be 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 will reduce 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 will provide employees with meeting areas. Ground level will be occupied with public elements.

The sustainable research centre will also house a two-storey, 450 square metre healthy living centre. The facility overlooking the Ossulston Street will be dedicated to improving health and well being of local inhabitants. It is planned to include two training and meeting rooms, health-check rooms, sports and physical activity areas, a kitchen and a reception. It will be run by the local residents, The Francis Crick Institute, Hopscotch, New Horizon Youth Centre, Training Link, Camden Council and Somers Town Community Centre.

Other associated developments at the UKCMRI in Camden

The project will include allocation of £1.7m 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 safety of the community, a teaching laboratory to school students, involvement of public in science programmes, a 450-seat auditorium and exhibition space, improvements to community spaces, voluntary educational programmes, a pedestrian and cycle access way and 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 is the main contractor and the contract value is about £350m. URS is the environmental engineer. Arup is the mechanical, electrical, public health engineer and is also responsible for project management. Adams Kara Taylor is the structural engineer and Turner and Townsend is the cost consultant.


The original design caused a stir in 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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