Francis Crick

Design and Build Krios Cryo-Electron Microscope Facility


How do you manage intrusive engineering works in a research institute focussed on improving treatment, diagnosis and prevention of human disease?

By using an expert team and tried and tested engineering and construction methodologies to ensure science and research activities are not disrupted.

  • Works delivered in a live and complex environment.
  • Adjacent to St Pancras; design developed to consider vibration issues.
  • Francis Crick Institute is home to 1,500 scientists.

In 2017, Merit was assigned to develop the concept design for a new facility to house a Titan Krios G3 Transmission Electron Microscope.

Scientists at the Crick use electron microscopy to study the structures of proteins, DNA, viruses, bacteria, yeast, cells, tissues, tumours and animals including worms, fruit flies and zebrafish. Analysing structures in minute detail means that they can learn more about how they function, leading to new insights into health and disease.

The key aspect of the design was to provide a facility able to meet regulatory requirements. This involved Merit’s team learning and expanding on existing knowledge as well as using knowledge transfer and best practice techniques from other complex projects.

Our in house design team delivered the design from concept stage to RIBA stage 3. The technical demands of the project proved a challenge particularly in respect of EMI (electromagnetic interference) shielding. Electromagnetic interference was found to be occurring as a result of the rail network running adjacent to the subterranean lab where the microscope was to be housed.

During the design stage, a detailed analysis was undertaken on the frequencies to enable the extent of the interference to be fully considered. Merit worked with experts in EMI shielding to establish a solution that worked within a clean environment.

Following this initial design stage, Merit was awarded the construction and installation package. This involved developing the design from RIBA stage 4 through to stage 7 to include testing and commissioning as required to ensure handover of a fully compliant Electron Microscope facility.

The facility brings together some of the most highly respected research groups in the world and understanding this and reflecting this in the delivery of our activities was critical.

Constant communication and liaison played an important part through an experienced Merit team. A series of review meetings were initiated also, taking place on a weekly basis, with daily catch up and update meetings, as required. Other review meetings included contract reviews, design reviews, programme and planning reviews.