HOK Delivers University of Glasgow’s Advanced Research Centre

This month the first group of researchers, technicians, professional staff and post-graduate students began to occupy the University of Glasgow’s new Advanced Research Centre (ARC).

A centrepiece of the University’s campus development and one of the first buildings to occupy the new western site on the Gilmore Hill campus, the 16,000 m² building will house around 500 academic and student researchers from across all four University colleges: Social Sciences, Arts, Science and Engineering, and Medical/Veterinary and Life Sciences. The design addresses the University’s three specific requirements to enable interdisciplinary research, foster collaboration and communication, and support wide-ranging engagement among researchers, students, industries, policy makers and the general public.

University of Glasgow Professor Andrew Tobin, director of the ARC, said:

“Through the ARC we are attempting something disruptive and hugely exciting – an evolution in how we operate as a research-intensive university. The building has been specifically designed to support this ambition.

Once the building is fully operational, we will have a diverse range of researchers from different disciplines sharing one space. The potential cannot be over-estimated. Beyond that, we have created new spaces to support colleagues across the campus in their efforts to realise their research, innovation and engagement ambitions. These spaces will support creativity, conferences, networking and collaboration.”

Gary Clark, HOK’s regional leader for science and technology added:

“To solve today’s greatest challenges, universities must incorporate their local communities, nurture ties with industry to foster research and innovation, and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration among students and faculty from diverse backgrounds. The Advanced Research Centre accomplishes these goals by combining informed design with the latest insights into problem-solving and teamwork.”

Designed to Innovate

HOK drew inspiration for the ARC from the University’s existing campus, the Gilmorehill Campus Masterplan and the surrounding historic buildings of Glasgow. The building forms the west side of a new square within the expanded campus and features a civic-scale frontage with varied terra-cotta panels and fins set within a cast stone frame. A public route moves through the building at the entry level, physically and symbolically 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.

Designed to address functional needs and spur engagement, the ARC features a large central atrium filled with natural light and 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 available to anyone from the University community.

Window to Research

HOK’s design specifically expresses the functions and processes within the ARC while consciously respecting the surrounding architectural character. The strategic placement of glazing enhances visual communication and showcases research activities to the public. The inviting ground floor, with its exhibition areas and multipurpose spaces, will engage the public and promote the wonders of research and collaborative enquiry. Researchers from multiple disciplines, arts, humanities and science, will be co-located in the building. To meet these distinctive aspirations, HOK’s design allows for maximum flexibility and transparency – enabling adaptability and futureproofing.

The design provides a mixture of event, social, structured and informal meeting and write-up areas in addition to flexible wet and dry lab spaces. Together, they support a range of research, engagement and collaboration activities that can evolve without significant additional expenditures or disruption. Likewise, the ARC’s shared facilities and equipment enhance opportunities for interaction, communication and collaboration intended to spark imagination and lead to new discoveries.

A Research Community Like No Other

The research community occupying the ARC will be made up of physicists, engineers, life scientists and members of the social sciences and the arts in a truly interdisciplinary community, working together to tackle global challenges. It will be a dynamic environment with research networks and teams evolving over time, including the inclusion of visiting researchers from other Higher Education institutions, industry and the public sector.

These research teams will work alongside each other in an open and shared environment. This is the first time the University has attempted to co-locate such a diverse mix of interdisciplinary researchers in one facility.