The new 12,500m2 building will accommodate over 40 research groups for the first time in a single ‘ultra-modern space’ to enhance collaboration and its research. The new facility has been built in collaboration with Imperial College, and is located at its Hammersmith Hospital campus in White City.
Completing the project involved engaging with multiple stakeholders with complex technical requirements on a congested hospital site. The Buro Happold team of laboratory designers and engineers played a key part in in the successful delivery of the new research building, which will have officially open in early 2023.
Richard Walder, director, Buro Happold, said: “The new LMS building will be an inspirational environment, well executed. Delivering on the engineering challenges over a wide-ranging scientific brief is testament to the collaborative approach between the client, design, and construction teams. The new LMS will bring huge benefits to the UK research community for many years to come.”
Chris Abell and Bruce Nepp, (formerly Abell Nepp; now part of Buro Happold) provided laboratory briefing and design services, working closely with architects HawkinsBrown. They said: “The building incorporates the scientists’ specific needs into world-class technical facilities and workspace, including super-resolution imaging, and cryogenic electron microscopy (cryoEM) suites, a data centre, and specialist support facilities.”
Carol Lees, a Partner at HawkinsBrown, said: “The LMS building carefully weaves together highly controlled laboratory environments with write-up neighbourhoods that have a warmer, homely feel to support researchers’ sense of wellbeing. We placed a heavy emphasis on breakout areas, circulation spaces, and cafés, to encourage chance encounters and collaboration. The science is supported with public engagement spaces and social facilities including a café; all constructed around a visually impressive feature staircase that runs the full height of the building in a single sweep from the atrium. Design and engineering solutions encouraged the sharing of specialist technical equipment and activities by placing them between open flexible laboratories and write-up spaces. This allowed access to the specialist labs from either end, saving space, reducing costs, and encouraging greater collaboration between scientists.”
Bruce Nepp, director, Buro Happold Laboratory Consultancy, said “Buro Happold and HawkinsBrown worked together to develop a complex series of technical briefs into an outstanding building where high-performance laboratory facilities sit alongside non-lab environments to create collaborative research neighbourhoods supporting their own specialisms and the entire Institute. With the super-resolution imaging and cryoEM suites, our acoustics team needed to mitigate vibration and electro-magnetic fields to exceptionally low levels, including those generated by moving building lifts and external vehicle movements. This also included 20% heavier foundations in these locations, as well as careful consideration of the location of plant and logistical facilities.”
The building’s location on a fully operational hospital campus also created its own considerations. Its footprint and access were restricted, requiring a tall building. The construction activities couldn’t compromise the functioning of the hospital including the blue-light routes.
Buro Happold says it adopted a strategy of reducing energy consumption through efficient design and energy recovery, ‘challenging traditional standards, while putting user safety at the forefront. This was achieved through a series of measures, including optimising air change rates, and a focus on HVAC plant efficiency, by connecting to the site-wide district heat network, which is in the process of being decarbonised. A photovoltaic array (PV) was added to the roof, along with interventions for rainwater attenuation and sedum, added for biodiversity. The company said: “All these measures will allow the facility to benefit from lower running costs so that more money can be dedicated to important scientific work.”