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Project of the Year (over £50m) at 2021 Construction News Awards

Pears Building - Institute of Immunity and Transplantation

Creating a world-leading research centre in North London, winner of the 2021 Construction News Awards 'Project of the Year (over £50m)'.

We were chosen by The Royal Free Charity to build a world-leading research centre which advances the understanding of conditions including cancer and diabetes.

The UCL Institute for Immunity and Transplantation, which opened in 2020, brings together leading scientists, academic clinicians and clinical trials specialists to develop revolutionary treatments and therapies for patients.

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The Pears Building, situated next to the Royal Free Hospital in London, has been made possible through the largest ever fundraising effort by the Royal Free Charity, including a generous donation from the Pears Foundation.

State-of-the-art centre for research

Designed by Hopkins Architects, the centre houses world-class laboratory space, unique research facilities and write-up spaces for the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation. The new facilities will improve the provision of care for patients and help to deliver an effective public outreach and engagement programme.
The building's seven-storey structure comprises a five-storey exposed concrete frame with a two-storey steel frame above. We chose the concrete to help achieve the exceptionally tight vibration requirements necessary for world-class laboratory facilities, with the steel frame minimising the construction depth and complying with the planning heights.


Installed through the buildings’ centre, a light filled atrium with a new feature staircase spanning its width will foster interaction among researchers and create a vibrant hub for clinical research at the heart of the building. Designed to achieve BREEAM Excellent, the project responds to the local character of the area and surrounding landscape.

Chris Burghes, chief executive of the Royal Free Charity:

“We have worked extremely hard to raise the funds for this vitally important research centre. Now we’ve reached this momentous point and construction work can begin. In about 129 weeks we will have the most amazing building for the benefit of patients. It will be a fantastic facility that will make us all proud. This project is about looking ahead to the future of healthcare and better ways of treating diseases and conditions that affect people in our local community, as well as others around the UK and the rest of the world.”

Chris Tredget, managing director for Willmott Dixon in North London:

“This is an exciting moment for us. The Pears Building will revolutionise the ability to treat serious medical conditions like cancer and help reduce the amount of time it takes for new medicines to be available for people to use. We are proud to be using our skills for building world-class science and medical facilities to deliver this hugely important clinical research centre.”


The Pears Building will combine NHS patient care with the latest developments in research to provide better treatments for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, HIV, and tuberculosis, and for traditional and tissue-developed transplants.

The new facilities will provide over 6,000m² of the best possible infrastructure for research, training and clinical delivery, with state-of-the-art research labs, equipment and clean room facilities to adapt research protocols for production of clinical grade therapeutics for trials in patients.

Teams from the UCL Institute for Immunity and Transplantation, already working within the Royal Free Hospital, will then move into the purpose built centre to benefit from the facilities.


The Pears Building was awarded the Project of the Year (over £50m) at the 2021 Construction News Awards. The judges were suitably impressed:

“The Pears Building is a world-class scientific and medical facility built to high standards of sustainability, adding great social value to the community and using innovative solutions to overcome complex logistical challenges.”

They added that Willmott Dixon had

“performed construction surgery in a very constrained urban environment” to deliver this “unique and special project”.

How does the Pears Building compare to other projects?

This building will deliver a huge amount to humanity by developing cures to immune related illnesses. Not a lot of projects can say that! Logistically the building is complex to access and egress due to traffic in the area along with the proximity of the Royal Free Hospital on our door step.

The geology of the area provided complex challenges to construct the building, however through extensive technical expertise and site investigations all issues have been addressed and well thought out plans and designs have been put in place.

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What special features will the building have?

The building will house high specification laboratories with associated break out and write up spaces which will be the core use. This in addition to the two levels of patient accommodation which will enable people undergoing clinical trials to rest and recover in the comfort of the building and not have the journey home to contend with.

Visually the building will be a mixture of concrete, brick, glass and metal and shall be very in keeping with the local longstanding Rosslyn Hill properties.

How has the building been designed to be sustainable?

Pears' roof shall be covered with photovoltaic cells (solar panels) which shall generate electricity and be fed into the running of the building. Also the roof shall be covered in a ‘brown’ roof which has been carefully selected to provide future habitats for local wildlife and insect populations.

The building has been designed to prevent air leakage thus allowing the building to perform better by not wasting heated air.

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  • Advancing the understanding of conditions including cancer and diabetes
  • BREEAM Excellent
  • State-of-the-art research labs
  • Awarded Project of the Year (over £50m) at the 2021 Construction News Awards




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Tel: 01462 442200

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