With a design team appointed by the client, The University of Manchester and consisting of Arcadis providing Project Management and Full Design Team Services, including Cost and Information Management; together with Rafael Viñoly Architects as Architect; Laing O’Rourke as Lead Consultant and Contractor; and Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick, the UK’s leading mechanical and electrical capability provider, as subcontractor, the 8,400-square-meter (92,688-square-foot) research building will be critical in exploiting and maintaining the UK’s world-leading position in graphene and related 2-D materials. The £60m facility will serve as a state-of-the-art, collaborative environment to support and accelerate application research and development in partnership with other research organisations and industry.
The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre sits in a uniquely accessible location in the city centre, where it will support the development of the University’s vision to create a Graphene City in the heart of Manchester. It will create the world’s leading test-bed for graphene and 2-D material process engineering and scale-up, serving as a complement to the University’s existing National Graphene Institute
(NGI)–completed in 2015–where currently 150 scientists and engineers work directly on graphene.
The Masdar Building features two continuous floor plates of modular labs to maximise flexibility of the highly-technical, specialised research space. A key driver for the building organisation has been to maximise the amount of laboratory space on the lower levels in order to promote interactivity between researchers and cross-disciplinary projects. A modular approach to the organisation of the double-height research space offers maximum flexibility. Partitions can be repositioned and equipment of various sizes can be easily deployed to efficiently and effectively meet graphene and 2-D materials development needs.
In the first instance, projects in the Masdar Building will focus on pilot production and characterisation, together with applications in composites, energy, solution formulations and coatings, electronics, and membranes. These highly-technical laboratory spaces are large volume and open-plan. The building also contains open and closed offices that encourage collaboration while respecting confidentiality requirements and break-out spaces and open workstations to accommodate group research work.
The building’s design responds to its prominent location adjacent to the Mancunian Way urban motorway by creating a glazed street-facing side to show the work being conducted inside. Glazed laboratories and projecting elements on the upper office level further connect the building to the city beyond.
In accordance with the University’s sustainability aspirations, the project will be certified BREEAM Excellent. This is being achieved through the careful specification of elements of building fabric, renewable technologies, mechanical systems, and a biodiverse landscape scheme.
Mel Manku, Science and Education Sector Leader at Arcadis, said:
“The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre will allow Manchester and the UK to take a truly world-leading position in graphene and other 2D materials."
“The city of Manchester and wider Northern Powerhouse region are at the forefront of generating prosperity outside of London, and critical facilities like this will lead the world in terms of research and innovation. Arcadis are extremely proud to have worked with the university on this significant project.”
Rafael Viñoly from Rafael Viñoly Architects, said:
“We are proud to support the expansion of ground-breaking research in innovative materials happening at the University of Manchester with the design of The Masdar Building to house the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre. The University’s practice of integrating both scientific research at the collaborators and corporate partners in a single, flexible project hub, for which the shared spaces of the facility have been tailored, underpins its strong leadership in both basic and practical discoveries.”
Liam Cummins, Head of UK Building for Laing O’Rourke, added:
“We’re delighted that this state-of-the-art facility is now open to scientists and engineers. As an engineering enterprise committed to innovation and excellence in our own delivery, it is exciting to think about the potential developments that will come to fruition here at the GEIC and I know our team are rightfully proud of to have been a part of this."
Lee Bridges, Delivery Unit Director of Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick, said:
“The Masdar Building, home of the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, is a flagship building for The University of Manchester. It will enable the University and its industry partners to progress their world leading research into graphene and its applications and we are proud to have played a key role in delivering the mechanical and electrical services for this innovative new facility.”