Chemistry Research Laboratory


The University's Department of Chemistry is housed in a number of buildings of various ages, conditions and functional suitability dotted around the University's Science Area. Having examined the possibility of refurbishing the buildings and trying to co-locate sub-departments a decision was taken to construct a new single research building, the Chemistry Research Laboratory (CRL). This has enabled the bringing together of research chemists from various disciplines from their separate locations into a single building now housing in excess of 500 people.

The building has brought about a new sense of integration for the occupying chemists. Plans are in hand for CRL2, a second building designed to complete the consolidation of the chemists still occupying other buildings around the Science Area and to provide world-class teaching facilities.

Occupation of the building commenced in late 2003. The building was formally opened in February 2004 by HM the Queen and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh.

 The Building

The Chemistry Research Laboratory building is one of the largest research facilities in Oxford at approx 16,000 sq.m. It is located on a former car-park site on the south side of the University's Science area adjoining the listed buildings of Mansfield College and the new Rothermere American Institute. The building design is focused around a core of generic chemistry laboratory space provided through 48 eight-person laboratory modules. The lowest level of a double storey basement provides specialist laboratory modules and dedicated rooms for NMR imaging and mass spectrometry. A separate wing provides professorial office suites and research office space together with meeting and seminar rooms. The office wing is linked to the main laboratory wing by a glazed atrium that provides a social focus and "heart" for the building. The lower height office wing allows the building to step down towards its neighbours.

The building has six floors including a double basement. It was built using diaphragm walls and a bottom-up, top-down construction sequence.

Key stakeholders

Construction of the CRL was made possible by a large number of funders including JIF funding (EPSRC), Wolfson Foundation, EP Abraham Trust, Thomas Swan, the family of Landon T. Clay, the Salters Company and a £20 million partnership with IP Group.

Project Team

  • Architect: RMJM Ltd
  • Services Engineer: Faber Maunsell
  • Structural Engineer: Faber Maunsell
  • Cost Consultant: Turner and Townsend
  • Contractor: Laing O'Rourke
  • Project Manager: Estates Services
  • Project Completion date: February 2004


Total project cost: £62m (include fees, VAT, etc.)

Construction cost: £42m


The building received an RIBA Award in 2005.