My Institute will vanish in a couple of years’ time and will be reborn as part of a brand-new Institute: the Crick. One of the advantages of working in an Institute that is going through these difficult times is the chance to peek into the developing new Institute – the largest single-site construction project in the UK. It is quite something.
I was lucky enough to go along to the topping out ceremony last month, though I remained firmly on the ground – I was not part of the select party that went aloft to witness the actual topping-out. Down below, I got to witness the speeches by Sir Paul Nurse, the Francis Crick Institute Director,
and by Chancellor George Osborne (I even found myself clapping at the end of his speech – that’s a first!).
However, only a small group actually went upstairs after that to ladle cement into a little hole on the roof.
Last week though we did get to go up on top of the building. They have regular site tours for staff and we arranged for all the Library staff to go. I rather expected that post-topping out it would feel like an almost complete building, but I was wrong there. It is still very much a building site and much of the building is still open to the elements. We had to get kitted out in boots, hardhat, safety glasses and gloves. We walked up and down many flights of steps (the scary wobbly kind with holes in) and took a very slow hoist up a few floors. We went down into the basements, as much as 17m deep, and went up onto the 7th floor (almost the top), with fairly impressive views of London. Sadly photographs are not allowed so I wasn’t able to get any snaps of my own. (You can see a regularly updated album of photos on the Crick’s Facebook page, and some more in their Construction news pages).
It still needs a bit of imagination to see how the final building will look, but being inside it I got some sense of the scale of the building (i.e. big). The exterior is now starting to look more like the artists’ impressions, as they have put much of the glass on and are putting the lovely terracotta cladding on. We were told to come back again in Spring 2014 when it should look more like a completed building, though there will be another 12 months or so of fitting out work after that.