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HOK on developing lab space at 'Science Cities'

Advanced Research Centre (ARC), Glasgow University - courtesy HOK

HOK's Sustainable Design Leader, Rob McGill, will be speaking at Future Cities Forum's 'Science Cities' forum this week at Newnham College, Cambridge. He has 20 years of experience as an architect with an emphasis on sustainability and inclusivity.

Rob has participated in the design of more than $270 million worth of projects across markets including science and technology, healthcare, education, sports and recreation, residential and commercial. While at another firm, he served as the facade design and sustainability lead for the UK’s first Proton Beam Therapy Hospital, which achieved the world’s highest BREEAM interim certification score for its rating scheme.

HOK's recent science-related projects include the high-tech Advanced Research Centre (ARC) building at Glasgow University, the LG Science Campus in Seoul, and the interiors for AstraZeneca's new R&D building in Kendall Square, Cambridge, USA.

The ARC building houses 500 multidisciplinary researchers and serves as a centre-piece of Glasgow University’s new campus development. It is the first time the University has attempted to collocate such a diverse mix of interdisciplinary researchers in one building. Researchers come from all four of the University’s colleges: Social Sciences, Arts, Science and Engineering, and Medical/Veterinary and Life Sciences. The plan allows for maximum flexibility and transparency between these disciplines.

HOK’s design expresses the research activities taking place inside the ARC while drawing inspiration from the University’s existing campus and masterplan and Glasgow’s historic buildings.

The ARC forms the west side of a new square within the expanded campus. A public route moves through the building at the entry level, connecting the new University square to the West End community. This permeable streetscape displays the internal activities of the ARC to the outside world, supporting the University’s intention to be transparent in its community.

In addition to flexible wet and dry lab spaces, the design provides a mixture of event, social, structured and informal meeting areas that are flexible to change along with the University’s future needs.

A large, daylight-filled central atrium includes a café and multipurpose engagement space. It includes exhibition spaces to display research, a custom-built space for immersive technologies (VR/AR) and seminar spaces.

These shared facilities enhance opportunities for collaboration, interaction and communication intended to spark imagination and lead to new discoveries.

HOK describes its science research site project in Seoul:

'The chairman of LG Group had a vision: Merge LG’s eight affiliate companies into a single research site in Seoul and infuse this next-generation campus with the company’s “innovation for a better life” esprit de corps.

'That vision became reality in LG Science Park, a 26-building campus designed to inspire 24,000 LG researchers, engineers, scientists and visitors at work on tomorrow’s new products and discoveries. Located in Seoul’s R&D-focused Magok District, the campus is the world research headquarters for LG Group’s consumer electronics business and a new scientific hub for South Korea.

'HOK’s design propels scientific breakthrough by stimulating the synergies among people, places and activities. Though it’s one of the world’s largest corporate research campuses, LG’s people have opportunities for interaction at four scales:

  • Within individual labs.

  • In lab neighbourhoods.

  • Via transparent atria that link lab neighbourhoods and enable staff to make visual connections across large expanses of space.

  • Through the entire collection of buildings joined by linear, landscaped parkways.

"All design decisions were made from the perspective of researchers, with research productivity and the synergy of fusion in mind. Here, LG will chart the right future for mankind.”— Ju-Hwan Shin , Managing director, LG Science Park Business Unit/Construction Drive Division

HOK is also designing the interiors of AstraZeneca’s new research and development site in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The 570,000-square-foot facility will serve as a key innovation centre for the biopharmaceutical company. It will integrate teams from AstraZeneca and Alexion Pharmaceuticals, with the latter acquired by AstraZeneca in 2021.

Located in the heart of Kendall Square’s booming life sciences cluster, this 16-story tower will be AstraZeneca’s fourth strategic R&D site worldwide. It also will serve as the global headquarters for Alexion.

This purpose-built workplace, designed to accommodate approximately 1,850 employees, will support drug discovery and development breakthroughs. HOK’s team is creating vibrant, flexible spaces that promote collaboration and scientific exchange. The open layout combines modular lab benches and offices, bringing teams together around shared facilities and equipment. Communal hubs provide space for impromptu gatherings and informal learning.

Sustainability is a focus, with the project targeting LEED Commercial Interior Platinum certification. HOK’s design integrates biophilic elements and access to outdoor terraces, enhancing employees’ connection to nature and overall wellness.

The design also aligns with WELL Building Standard principles across areas including air, water, light, sound and fitness.

HOK brought its pioneering “Designing for Equity” initiative to life by embedding diversity, equity and inclusion into every facet of this project’s design process. Engaging AstraZeneca’s internal DEI stakeholders in visioning sessions gave HOK’s design team insights that shaped the building’s office floors, lobby, cafeteria and auditorium to be tailored to diverse needs.

Construction of this strategic R&D centre is scheduled for completion in 2026.

HOK’s team is providing interior design, lab programming and planning, sustainable design, experience design and lighting design services. BXP is the developer and Pickard Chilton is the base building architect.



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