Project Profile: New Laboratory of Molecular Biology Building

Firm name: RMF Engineering Inc. 

Project building name and location: New Laboratory of Molecular Biology Building, Cambridge, England

Type of building and type of project: Biomedical Research and Laboratory Building, New Construction

Project completion date and project duration: January 2012

Engineering challenges and solutions:

The ambition of the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) is to remain a world class research establishment and to further develop their distinguished history of discovery and invention. The LMB, with 50 years of proven success, having received many accolades and awards, strives to continue excellence in science while training scientists for research around the world. LMB’s mission is to drive scientific innovation throughout the next century.

To establish the environment for future research, the MRC set out to construct a new building for its LMB and Centre for Protein Engineering (CPE), together with space for the MRC Centre, to re-house the existing facilities, and allow for future developments and requirements.

The Solution

The LMB building is a 3-story, 300,000 GSF state of the art biomedical research facility that will allow MRC, LMB and CPE to continue their research in Structural Studies, Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry, Cell Biology and Neurobiology. The LMB aims to interpret biological phenomena at the molecular level by providing a space to perform a wide range of studies on the structure and functions of proteins, nucleic acids and macromolecular assemblies, and by researching the mechanisms and control of gene expression, especially as related to cell differentiation and other developmental processes.

Several notable features have been incorporated into this benchmark facility. All heavy utilities servicing the building are housed in the energy center or in four stainless steel-clad towers linked to the building. This removes weight and sources of vibration from the laboratory itself, allowing a more user friendly environment and lightweight construction. Between the floors are full height Interstitial Service Voids (ISV), which house all ductwork, piping and electrical services. The ISV’s can be accessed directly for maintenance without entering the laboratory zones. The design concept results in a highly flexible scheme that is adaptable over time.

Engineering Highlights

The project incorporates many state of the art energy enhancements, some of which are mandated by governmental regulation. Primary features are as follows:

  • The all glass façade has been optimized to incorporate a double skin/thermal flue facade which maximizes natural light while controlling heat gain and loss
  • Laboratory air systems are variable air volume and include “heat wheel” heat recovery technology
  • Western stack office areas incorporate chilled beams and the Lecture Theatre has a displacement air system
  • Extensive day-lighting controls, high efficiency lighting and variable speed controllers further reduce projected energy use.

BIM Technology Leveraged

RMF produced all MEP elements of this project using 3D Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology. The work process required regular exchange of both architectural and structural models to drive coordination and primary design objectives. Following the design phase, the BIM models were used to develop pre-fabricated engineering modules to improve the project schedule and enhance build quality.

Engineering Challenge

Cambridge City Council required that 10% of the total project energy consumption be handled by an on-site renewable energy strategy. Solution RMF’s design solution incorporated extensive use of heat recovery, as well as a ground source (geothermal) heating and cooling system employing 170 – 150 meter deep ground source boreholes. The completed design solution will offset 13.4% of the total site energy consumption and will yield 820 tons of annual carbon dioxide savings. The completed system will be the largest installed ground source system in the European Union.


Click Here to View More Project Profiles

click me