Architects chosen for project to build a world-leading medical research centre in London

21 August 2008

The architects, HOK, have been chosen to design a world-leading medical research centre to fight disease in London.

The four consortium partners behind the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) - the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and UCL (University College London) - plan to create an internationally renowned science facility on 3.6 acres of land at Brill Place, behind the British Library in the Somers Town/King's Cross area of central London. The consortium has selected architects HOK as the preferred bidder to work with them on this project, subject to a period of contract finalisation.

HOK has a reputation for creating outstanding buildings which exemplify exacting design standards. The company has designed a variety of significant buildings including: Barclays Bank World Headquarters, London; the Darwin Centre Phase 1 at the Natural History Museum, London; King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, Saudi Arabia; and the Interdisciplinary Research Complex, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

UKCMRI was announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown on 5 December 2007. It will carry out research of the highest quality using the latest technology to advance understanding of human health and disease.

The detailed design requirements of the facility and the science to be conducted inside are being discussed by an expert committee chaired by the Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse. Sir Paul said: "HOK will play an important role in helping us to create a building that will attract the world's best scientists to the UK. This country is already a leader in medical research - this project plays a fundamental role in our ambition to consolidate and build on that position. We want a building that will help our scientists work with experts from different disciplines, from centres of excellence across the country and the world, to make a tremendous difference to our understanding of human disease."

Andrew Barraclough, Director at Architects HOK said: We are delighted to have been selected by UKCMRI to create an environment in which scientists can collaborate and realise paradigm shifting medical breakthroughs. This facility has the potential to have an extraordinary impact on the wellbeing of our global population. Our goal is to create an intelligent and memorable building - one which works, and delivers the benefits of research and innovation to the patient."

The programme director for UKCMRI, Fay Gillott said: "HOK has shown the partner organisations an exciting vision for this building. We want to create a building that will serve the people of London and the UK for decades to come. The research to be carried out will focus on cures for common human conditions such as cancer, malaria and 'flu. UKCMRI is sited at the heart of a cluster of leading scientific, academic and hospital institutions located in and around the King's Cross area. It will be an inspiring place for researchers to work. Its location and design are key to our ambition to drive forward our research into health and disease and improve health more quickly."

Subject to planning consent, the final building should be completed by 2014 and will house 1500 staff.

Notes to editors:

For more information on the project, visit
For more details on HOK architects, visit


The partners

Cancer Research UK

  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients.
  • Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make.
  • Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer.

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7009 8820 or visit

The Medical Research Council is dedicated to improving human health through excellent science. It invests on behalf of the UK taxpayer. Its work ranges from molecular level science to public health research, carried out in universities, hospitals and a network of its own units and institutes. The MRC liaises with the Health Departments, the National Health Service and industry to take account of the public's needs. The results have led to some of the most significant discoveries in medical science and benefited the health and wealth of millions of people in the UK and around the world.

The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending around £600 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.

UCL (University College London) is London's leading multi-disciplinary university, with 8000 staff and 20,000 students from 150 countries engaged in world-class teaching and research. It is ranked ninth in the 2007 THE-QS World University Rankings, and its publications attract more citations from fellow researchers than any other university outside North America. UCL is one of Europe's largest and most productive centres for biomedical science and is ranked second in the world for neuroscience and behaviour, with more than twice as many publications and citations as any other European institution. It has recently established Europe's largest Academic Health Science Centre with four key partner hospital trusts - Great Ormond Street, Moorfields, the Royal Free and University College Hospital.