UCL Cancer Institute awarded 2009 RIBA prize

The UCL Cancer Institute (Paul O?Gorman building) has won the 2009 Royal Institute British Architecture (RIBA) award. The awards are given for buildings that have made a substantial contribution to the local environment.

The UCL Cancer Institute brings together cancer research across UCL and its partner hospitals, providing services, instrumentation and technological expertise to an large array of individual research groups housed under its roof. Its Paul O‘Gorman Building - named after the 14-year-old boy whose death from leukaemia in 1987 led to the foundation of the charity Children with Leukaemia ’ is situated at the heart of one of the largest and most prolific biomedical facilities in Europe. It comprises five floors which provide 4,500 square metres of specialist laboratory space, with the infrastructure to support the modern technologies required to conduct cancer research, and will ultimately house over 350 scientific staff.

The building was created by world-renowned architects at Grimshaw, known for their work on the Eden Project in Cornwall. Its design was influenced by its role as a cancer institute, and by the relationship between science and the study of cancer. It integrates images generated by the processes used in modern medical research with the building’s architecture: the load lines in the write-up area’s ceilings were shaped by the patterns of cell division chromosome painting inspired the colour scheme for the interior, and the shapes of the energy-saving terracotta panels at the front of the building are based on the very lectromagnetic waves which they are intended to block.

RIBA President Sunand Prasad commented: "The RIBA Awards are a thermometer to indicate the state of health of British architecture and for 2009 the results are good: both quality and quantity have been maintained. This year’s list accurately reflects both the diversity, and the workload of UK architecture, with more schools and health buildings than usual winning awards. These awards, which are judged on a regional basis, reflect and reward the good things that are going on all across the UK."

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