News & Insights

Cambridge labs reach major construction milestone

Progress on the new Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (CEB) facility at the University of Cambridge has been celebrated with a traditional topping-out ceremony.

The main contractor Morgan Sindall hosted the event at the University’s West Cambridge site, where the state-of-the-art laboratory is being built. The event marked the completion of the concrete frame and roof - key milestones in the £60 million project, which is due to be handed over in June 2015.

The dignitaries attending included the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Lynn Gladden.

The CEB will be used to promote collaboration and interdisciplinary working among research groups, researchers and students. The project follows the merger of the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering and the Institute of Biotechnology. They are presently located in separate buildings in Cambridge city centre and need room for growth. The departments have outstanding reputations in the fields of chemistry, physics, mathematics, clinical medicine and biology. The new building is the first to facilitate collaboration between undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers through the whole cycle of scientific investigation.

Professor Nigel Slater, Head of Department, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge said: “We are very pleased to be able to celebrate this key stage in the project, marking the completion of the main structure of the new home for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.

“Since last year the Department has followed the building progress through a CCTV-internet link and our excitement has grown steadily as it has sprouted ever upwards. We appreciate that the diverse research and teaching activities of the Department, and the specialised facilities that these require, make the building extremely complex yet we have been amazed by the pace of progress. Our excitement is heightened by today’s topping out ceremony, and we are grateful for what has been achieved on the project to date.”

Bob Ensch, area director for Morgan Sindall, said: “The Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Building is a landmark project for the University of Cambridge and will add further to its international reputation for learning and research in this field. The project team is working well with all of the stakeholders involved, and it’s a privilege to bring our construction expertise to bear on such a significant scheme.”

The CEB was designed by BDP architects, with a project team that includes Ramboll UK as civil and structural engineers and Hoare Lea as services engineers.

The CEB will feature a wide range of biological laboratories to Bio Safety Levels Two and Three, cleanrooms, sensitive laser, optics and imaging laboratories, a Magnetic Resonance Research Centre, materials and processes laboratories and an undergraduate teaching laboratory. The undergraduate teaching facilities support these laboratories through dedicated spaces that include two 120-seat lecture theatres, a postgraduate open plan researcher write-up space, and academic and administrative offices.

It stands on the University’s West Cambridge site which covers 66-hectares between the M11 motorway, Madingley Road, and Clerk Maxwell Road. The site is already home to the renowned Cavendish Laboratories and the British Antarctic Survey.


Pictured (front row L-R): Professor Chris Lowe, director of research in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology department; Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor; Professor Lynn Gladden, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research; Professor Nigel Slater, Head of Department, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge.

For more information about this news release please contact Chris Hulme at Paver Smith on 07971 350116 or email