Home Latest News Rosalind Franklin Institute reaches key construction milestone

The £40m Hub building which will house The Rosalind Franklin Institute on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus has reached practical completion, with the construction company Mace handing legal ownership to UK Research and Innovation. The Franklin will now commence specialist scientific fit out.

The Franklin, funded through UK Research and Innovation’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, is dedicated to creating technologies which will change the way researchers see life. These technologies will be housed in the Hub at Harwell alongside 200 researchers, including collaborators from academia and industry.

The Hub has been delivered on time and on budget by Mace, working in partnership with AECOM, The Science and Technology Facilities Council, and the Franklin. The design and build project commenced in 2018, breaking ground in May 2019, and topping out in November 2019. Researchers will occupy the Hub as soon as the laboratory fit out and installation of research equipment completes.

The Rosalind Franklin Institute building is officially handed over after being built on time and on budget. (L-R): Charlie Vezzell (Associate Project Manager AECOM), Jim Naismith (Director of the Franklin), and Simon Allen (Mace Project Director). Photograph By: Sean Dillow.

Professor James Naismith, Director of The Franklin said “This is a building created by scientists for cutting edge research, and we are looking forward to continuing to deliver impact for the UK. The Hub shows that it is possible to deliver a highly functional science building that is on budget, on time, energy efficient, a record breaker in space utilisation, and visually inspiring. This achievement, despite the pandemic, is entirely to the credit of the exceptional team work of MACE, AECOM, STFC and Franklin staff. Our scientists coming together in the building for the first time will deliver scientific firsts impacting across the UK nations. By doing so we will honour the legacy of our namesake Rosalind Franklin and try to be worthy of bearing her name.”

The design and construction teams at Mace worked closely with Franklin research teams to create a lab environment which is capable of supporting some of the world’s most sensitive research equipment. The Hub’s suites for electron microscopy are one of the most electromagnetically stable spaces on the planet, with stainless steel shielding and piled foundations creating ideal research conditions. The over 50 fume hoods, enabling next generation chemistry, requires miles of ducting. Despite mixing such different technologies, there is not a square metre of wasted space – the Hub is one of the most space efficient research buildings in the UK.

Interior of the Hub building. Photograph by: Sean Dillow.

Terry Spraggett, Managing Director of Public Sector Construction at Mace said: ‘’We are proud to successfully handover such an ambitious and unique project under quite challenging circumstances. We brought together a multi-disciplinary team, who really pushed the boundaries to support the Rosalind Franklin Institute’s vision and create a world class science facility that will spearhead innovation. We look forward to continuing our work across the campus delivering exceptional science spaces.”

Specialist labs for imaging, mass spectrometry, structural biology and chemistry have been designed to promote collaboration, while prioritising efficiency in space utilisation. Research already underway at The Franklin on the Harwell Campus and in spokes around the UK has led to the development of nanobodies against SARS-CoV-2, breakthroughs in imaging biological samples using electrons, and the development of chemistry techniques which can enable proteins to be modified within cells.

EPSRC Executive Chair, Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said: “The Franklin Hub will provide an important focus within the research landscape, helping the UK to maintain a leading position in the application of novel understanding in engineering and physical sciences to transform life sciences through interdisciplinary research and technology development.”

Commenting on this latest Institute milestone, STFC Executive Chair Professor Mark Thomson said “In recent years STFC’s health technology cluster here at Harwell has gone from strength to strength and the Rosalind Franklin Institute will become an essential element in that growing health technology ecosystem. Today’s announcement brings us a big step closer to the Franklin becoming operational and we look forward to supporting them in finding answers to the great life sciences challenges of the day.”

Richard Mann, AECOM’s Healthcare and Science Leader, UK & Ireland said “Our project and cost management teams are proud to have supported the delivery of the Rosalind Franklin Institute whose work will have global impact. The spirit of collaboration adopted by the wider project team, despite the challenges and impact imposed by the pandemic, has undoubtedly been critical for delivery on time and on budget.   We are delighted to continue our track record in delivering complex research facilities across the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.”

Exterior of the Hub building Photograph By: Sean Dillow.

Additional Information

Pictures and video available. Press contact:  Laura Holland, Director of Communications, The Rosalind Franklin Institute, 07786 391 037, laura.holland@rfi.ac.uk

The Rosalind Franklin Institute

The Rosalind Franklin Institute is a national institute dedicated to transforming life science through interdisciplinary research and technology development. The Institute will bring together researchers in life, physical science, and engineering, to develop disruptive new technologies designed to tackle major challenges in health and life sciences. Focussing initially on five major research themes, the Institute will have significant impact in imaging, diagnostics, drug development, and many more fields.

The Franklin is funded through the UK Research and Innovation through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The Institute is an independent organisation founded by the UK Research and Innovation, ten UK universities, and Diamond Light Source, and will have its central hub at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

The Rosalind Franklin Institute is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, registration number 11266143. We are a Registered Charity, number 1179810.

Twitter: @RosFrankInst


The Science and Technology Facilities Council

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is part of UK Research and Innovation – the UK body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish.

STFC funds and supports research in particle and nuclear physics, astronomy, gravitational research and astrophysics, and space science and also operates a network of five national laboratories, including the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Daresbury Laboratory, as well as supporting UK research at a number of international research facilities including CERN, FERMILAB, the ESO telescopes in Chile and many more.

Visit https://stfc.ukri.org/ for more information. @STFC_Matters

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, is the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK. By investing in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation.

Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future UK prosperity by contributing to a healthy, connected, resilient, productive nation.


Mace is an international consultancy and construction company, founded and built on exceptional people, a commitment to service excellence and a deep-rooted entrepreneurial spirit.

We employ over 6,300 people across five global hubs, with a turnover of £2.35bn. We develop, consult, construct and operate some of the world’s most inspiring projects and programmes.

Find out more about what makes us different: www.macegroup.com


AECOM is the world’s premier infrastructure consulting firm, delivering professional services throughout the project lifecycle – from planning, design and engineering to program and construction management. On projects spanning transportation, buildings, water, energy and the environment, our public- and private-sector clients trust us to solve their most complex challenges. Our teams are driven by a common purpose to deliver a better world through our unrivalled technical expertise and innovation, a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion, and a commitment to environmental, social and governance priorities. AECOM is a Fortune 500 firm and its Professional Services business had revenue of $13.2 billion in fiscal year 2020. See how we deliver what others can only imagine at aecom.com and @AECOM

Rosalind Franklin Institute