Laboratory of Molecular Biology

The new Laboratory of Molecular Biology, designed by RMJM Architects, doubles the size of one of the world’s leading and most famous laboratories. The £212 million project for the Medical Research Council in Cambridge was built by Bam Construction and handed over to the Medical Research Council in November 2012. The new LMB building design is a result of many years of collaboration between LMB scientists, RMF/KJ Tait engineers, RMJM architects and BAM Construction, shaping the design to meet the needs of the LMB for the next 50 years and beyond.

The 32,500m2 development, which from the air resembles an X-chromosome, is both striking to look at and excellent to work in, with a large atrium and circulation-space joining two asymmetrical blocks. It incorporates state-of-the-art facilities for 400 scientists and 200 support staff.

The six storey building devotes every other floor to full height Interstitial Service Voids (ISVs), which house all the ductwork, pipes and services. These ISV’s can be accessed directly for maintenance and modifications without entering the laboratory spaces themselves. This allows changes to be made rapidly and with minimal disruption, giving flexibility to meet the needs of the future and ensuring a long life for the building. All heavy plant servicing of the building is housed either in a separate energy centre, or in the four stainless steel- clad towers linked to the building. This removes weight and sources of vibration from the laboratory itself, allowing a more lightweight construction.

Scientists at the Medical Research Council’s LMB have won Nobel prizes and many other scientific awards through their pioneering work and developments, most notably the sequencing of DNA. They work at a molecular level to understand and ultimately tackle human health problems and disease. Elite was appointed by Bam Construction to supply a high end ironmongery package in line with the prestigious nature of the project. We worked closely with both the Bam team and RMJM through a rigorous and thorough design process. The ironmongery package comprised the locking systems, door closers and most notably an extensive selection of full height stainless steel plates. The latter involved close co-ordination with the door manufacturer and the site team to ensure accurate fitting around the various components, there was no margin for error! The result was an ironmongery package that complemented the overall design intent whilst providing a highly efficient environment for the building’s occupants.

The new LMB building has been announced as joint winner of the 2014 S-Lab award for new research laboratories worldwide. The S-Lab Awards are organised by the Safe, Successful, Sustainable Laboratories initiative (S-Lab), which aims to highlight lab innovation around the globe, and reveal best practice amongst all the key players involved in lab design, operation and management.