Carrying the moniker of the co-discoverer of DNA’s molecular structure proudly, the first scientists have moved into the Francis Crick Institute in London. The £650 million structure will be Europe’s largest biomedical laboratory under one roof and will study how illness develops with the aim of tackling health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and brain disorders.
With a distinctive structure it owes its modern appearance to the work of Tividale-based Barnshaws Section Benders, who supplied approximately 300 tons of precision curved structural steel to help realise the project.
Funded by the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL, Imperial College London and King’s College London, the new institute was conceived to replace other ageing lab facilities in the area.
A site was chosen adjacent to the Eurostar terminal in St Pancras, with four main blocks designed around a central atrium. Due to the innovative geometric design of the building, structural steel specialist Severfield contacted Barnshaws Section Benders in 2013 to lend their precision bending and fabrication expertise to the project.
Barnshaws was able to complete the work entirely in-house, due to the company boasting the largest cold metal bending capacity in the world. Sections specified by Severfield included a mix of Rectangular Hollow Sections, Universal Beams, Universal Columns and some additional flat sections. Due to decades of experience bending such beams and sections, Barnshaws was able to utilise expert engineers to ensure steelwork was supplied to site within schedule.
The structure itself comprises of a total floor space of over 17 football pitches, incorporating 12 floors including underground facilities. Furthermore, the underground levels of the building were designed to be vibration resistant to protect the accurate readings of precise machinery operating within. In its entirety, the building includes 2,300 tonnes of structural steelwork.
Greg North, Commercial Director at Barnshaws commented: “This was a particularly large scale project, but our in-house capacity and experienced team means we can tackle projects of any size. We operate some of the largest metal bending machines in the world, and it was exciting to utilise them for a project that is going to be at the forefront of researching illness in this country.”
With the institute now open, scientists from across the country will be converging on the new facility over the next few weeks, offering a further boost to Britain’s credentials as a world leader in research and technology.