Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge

Project: Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge
Category: Education
Products: Side Rails
Scale: £200m project. 27,000 m2 building including 60 tonnes of Metsec light gauge steel C section side rails

Metsec has supplied 55 tonnes of light gauge steel C section side rails to take the secondary cladding on eight towers included in a £200m state-of-the-art new facility to house Cambridge’s globally renowned Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB).

The striking new facility, designed by architects RMJM to support world class research and development, comprises two kinked laboratory blocks joined by a central atrium, which reflects the shape of a dividing chromosome.

All heavy plant servicing the building will be housed either in a separate energy centre, or in one of four stainless steel-clad tower plant rooms, each with a smaller sub tower sitting on top of the main structure. This will remove weight and sources of vibration from the laboratory itself and allow for a more lightweight construction. Interstitial Service Voids between the floors will house all the ductwork, pipes and services and will be accessible directly for maintenance and modification without the need to enter the laboratory space itself.

Due to be completed in 2012, the unusually-shaped new facility will replace an existing 50 year old building on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. When complete it will accommodate 440 scientists in 27,000m2 of fully air conditioned space over three floors. It will enable the LMB, which has produced 13 Nobel Prize winners and been the site of inventions and discoveries including DNA sequencing, to remain competitive at the cutting edge of scientific discovery.

Kevin Jones, Sales Director for Metsec’s Purlin Division says: “Due to the unusual shape of the towers, this job involved thousands of components and was therefore complex in terms of design. We worked with Varla UK, using our latest MetSPEC 12 design software to work out the detailing, which enabled accurate manufacture, costing and construction. The finished result will look very aesthetically pleasing, with the black clad plant towers on the roof being reminiscent of funnels on a ship and contrasting well with the glass clad building.”

Commissioned by the Medical Research Council and being built by BAM Construction, the new LMB building includes structural steelwork, which has been used for aesthetic as well as practical purposes. All the staircases and bridges within the central atrium are made from steel, as are the offices housed within four accommodation boxes which span the atrium, while the roof is formed with 30m long cellular beams.

Metsec is the UK’s largest designer and manufacturer of light gauge steel purlins, side rails, and mezzanine floor sections. Z and C section profiles are manufactured from 450N/mm2 material for high strength and low weight. They are cold rolled from pre-dipped hot steel with a Z275 coating. Profile heights range from 142mm to 342mm and thicknesses from 1.3mm to 3.0mm. A full range of accessories is available to cater for most cladding types and designs.

Metsec’s MetSPEC building shell design software links to the latest wind code and the BREVe database for topography. The latest version, MetSPEC 12, includes design analysis to Structural Eurocode EC: Part 1.3. Users of MetCAM detailing software and some other 3D draughting systems can transfer data to Metsec electronically.