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Rosalind Franklin Institute building reaches its highest point

The Rosalind Franklin Institute Hub building has passed a major milestone, as it celebrates the ‘topping out’ of the building.

The building, which sits on the Harwell Campus, will be a national centre for life science technology development, expected to open in early 2021.

Members of Rosalind Franklin’s family, and a group of young scientists from the Downs School, Compton helped mark the occasion, a construction tradition celebrating reaching the highest point of a building. The Franklin family laid the final piece at the top of the four storey construction. 

Vivienne Cox, Chair of The Franklin said:

‘We marked ground-breaking in May 2019, so to see the structure coming up in just six months is really remarkable. The teams here are building something very special, which will be a real beacon for life sciences in the UK.’

The Franklin was established to drive future advances in life sciences through developing cutting edge technology. The building is the heart of an Institute with members in Universities across the UK. Research already underway at member universities will eventually move into the completed building in Harwell.

The initial themes of the Franklin centre around the ability to see cells better than ever before: understanding their atomic and molecular composition, their detailed chemistry, and the way change occurs in their structure and behaviour over time. 

At Harwell, the £40m Hub building will house 200 scientists from around the UK and further afield working together to develop these new tools and technologies. The building contains highly specialised spaces, including the most electromagnetically stable space on earth, essential for developing new electron microscopes.

The design team have also focussed on maximising useful space available for research. Early analysis of the design shows that the Franklin Hub will the most efficient research space in the UK, while keeping social, networking, and high quality working spaces.

For the young scientists visiting, the event was a great opportunity to see science in a new light, and to understand more about the construction process. The students will be working with the Franklin team over the coming months on a project to learn about what it takes to be a scientist – collaboration and creativity.  

The Hub is being delivered by construction firm Mace, working with UKRI-STFC.

Terry Spraggett, Managing Director of Public Sector Construction at Mace, said: 

‘The project is ahead of schedule, and has gone through the design phase in record time. We’re pleased to be here and to celebrate the hard work of the build teams, and of the scientists who have worked together to design this unique building. We’re excited for the next phase of the project.’ 

Michelle Smith, CEO of Education Business Partnership, who are collaborating with The Franklin and the Downs School, said:

‘The students were so excited to come along and see this brilliant building, and learn about Rosalind Franklin herself. Careers in science and technology offer so many opportunities, but it’s often hard for students to imagine themselves in these roles without seeing them up close. Having the Franklin on the doorstep will be inspirational, and we’re excited about working together.’ 


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