Building and facilities
Work is currently underway to move all the LMB’s staff, equipment and facilities into a new, purpose-built building, designed to deliver the right environment in which innovative medical research, translation and collaboration can flourish.
Costing £212 million − paid for in part from the royalties derived from antibody-related work at the LMB − the new building will provide first class facilities to some of the world’s leading scientists. In addition, as a key component in the development of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, the new building is located at the hub of one of the largest and most internationally competitive concentrations of healthcare-related talent and enterprise in Europe.
Services and facilities
At approximately twice the size of the LMB’s previous home, the new building provides around 27,000m2 of world-class workspace, divided between three main floors.
Much of the floor space is devoted to central facilities, including a containment suite, computing, media preparation, chemistry labs, X-ray facilities, electron and optical microscopy, mass spectrometry, fermentation, stores, maintenance and lab management. The building also includes state-of-the-art mechanical, electrical and computing workshops, and sufficient ‘free’ space for future equipment and facilities.
Working at the LMB
The building has space to accommodate around 600 people including 440 scientists and 160 support staff. To help encourage the exchange of ideas and technical innovation, 40 scientists from the University of Cambridge will be based in the new building, working alongside 360 scientists from the LMB. In addition, a further 40 workspaces have been set aside for temporary projects such as initiatives to support translational work.
Although a building of this size can be intimidating, the space has been designed to encourage easy navigation, interaction and collaboration – with open, airy walkways, coffee-rooms and ‘breakout areas’ on each floor and a spacious staff restaurant and open-air terrace at roof level.
Design and construction
In overall structure the new building is reminiscent of paired chromosomes, with two long laboratory areas joined by a spacious atrium containing seminar rooms and a lecture theatre.
All heavy plant servicing 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. Between the floors are full height Interstitial Service Voids (ISVs), which house all the ductwork, pipes and services. These ISVs 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.
The main laboratories are in 1000m2 modules, each housing 40 benchworkers together with write-up spaces, group leader offices and local equipment rooms. Benches are double length (4m for two people), in 3.3m wide bays. The plan is semi-open, with walls separating pairs of bays from adjacent single-bay equipment areas. Write-up desks are separated from benches by a clean corridor, and are intermingled with group leader offices. Equipment rooms are separated from the laboratories by a main corridor, ensuring accessibility to all and promoting interactions between scientists.
Although large, the building has been designed to encourage interaction and easy navigation. There are many windows onto the atrium, which can be crossed at four points on each level allowing easy access and appreciation of the layout of the building. Glass-fronted lifts at either end give an overview of the entire 20m high space. Within the atrium, Divisional offices and seminar rooms are positioned at the two central crossing points, where staircases also connect the floors and provide access to informal coffee areas at the interstitial level. In the main laboratory modules, windows into the labs make it easy to locate people from the corridor and create an open, airy environment.
The ends of the atrium house a lecture theatre above the entrance, and at the opposite end the western stack comprising library, administrative offices and visual aids department. Since offices do not require ISVs, they are located both on the main lab floors and on the interstitial levels.
To complete the accommodation, there is a spacious restaurant on the south-west corner at roof level, complete with an external terrace to provide spectacular views out over the Gog-Magog hills and towards Trumpington.
The building is glass-clad. Heat build-up is reduced by automatic venetian blinds, between the standard double glazing and an outer glass skin. Other energy-saving features include heat recovery wheels which exchange energy between outgoing and incoming air, a ground source heat pump, and automatic control of lights to reduce intensity when daylight is available.