Hopkins Architects’ latest project is a supersleek HQ for the Wellcome Trust, where researchers can take their breaks in an elegant atrium complete with a giant, cascading glass sculpture

Two strips of offices draw light, air and a feeling of space from an extended atrium.
Two strips of offices draw light, air and a feeling of space from an extended atrium.

A well-tailored, sleek office building designed by Hopkins Architects will be officially opened next week on the Euston Road in London. It is the 28,000 m2 headquarters of the Wellcome Trust, one of world’s the largest medical research organisations.

The office block’s good manners are more than skin deep. In scale, shape, style and materials it slots neatly between its neighbours on either side and between streets front and rear. The 90 m long, 10-storey frontage mediates between the trust’s existing neo-classical stone building next door and the blue-tinted tower of the PFI University College Hospital, which is currently under construction.

Behind this front row of offices runs a parallel strip five storeys high along the narrower Endsleigh Gardens at the rear. An elongated atrium separates the two strips of offices and serves as the social hub of the building. Overhead, a clear-glazed roof rolls down from front to rear, where it forms a wintergarden over the staff restaurant on the top deck of the lower strip.

At one end of the mall-like atrium, an extraordinary glass sculpture cascades down seven storeys above a pool of water. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, this is a spiral composed of 150,000 glass hemispheres suspended from curtains of fine stainless steel wire. The glass hemispheres were cast in Poland to contain reflective film enabling the whole assembly to glow with constantly shifting colours across the full rainbow spectrum.

Hopkins is now moving on to the second phase of the project, which will be to transform the neo-classical building into Wellcome’s public face. As well as the trust’s world-famous library of books and images, it will contain exhibition space, a conference centre and bookshop, all aimed at heightening public awareness of biomedical issues.

Project team

Client Wellcome Trust
architect Hopkins Architects
structural engineer WSP
services engineer Cundall Johnston and Partners
quantity surveyor Turner & Townsend
artist for glass sculpture Thomas Heatherwick
structural engineer for sculpture Packman Lucas
project and construction manager Mace