Cambridge University Reporter


Second-stage Report of the Council on the construction of a new building for the study of plant diversity and development

The COUNCIL begs leave to report to the University as follows:

1. A First-stage Report on the construction of a new building in the Botanic Garden for the study of plant diversity and development was published on 26 July 2006 (Reporter, 2005-06, p. 885) and approved by Grace 4 of 18 October 2006. This Second-stage Report informs the University about the further development of the scheme and seeks approval for construction of the building to proceed.

2. The First-stage Report described how the study of plant development is being transformed by the new scientific and technical resources becoming available to biologists, including high volume DNA sequencing, novel methods for imaging living materials, increasingly sophisticated genetic tools, and refined chemical methods. The proposed building, to be funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, will provide the stage for a new synthesis that will draw on molecular, cellular, whole plant, and population biology to elucidate how organisms are constructed and to shed new light on the evolution and significance of biological diversity. The Foundation have agreed to donate funds to the University for the construction of the building and to pay, for a minimum period of ten years, an annual grant to the University to fund research programmes in the building on a five-year rolling basis. This grant will also include provision for the core costs of running and maintaining the building which will be known as the Sainsbury Laboratory. In addition, it is expected that the research will attract funding from Research Councils and other funders. Proposals for the constitution of an institution, within the School of the Biological Sciences, will be the subject of a separate Report of the General Board in due course.

3. In its Report, dated 9 June 2003 (Reporter, 2002-03, p. 1024) the Council informed the University of a proposal, subject to the raising of the necessary funds, for the construction of a new free-standing building for the Herbarium of the Department of Plant Sciences at the Botanic Garden. However, in the course of the development of the scheme for the Sainsbury Laboratory, it has been agreed in consultation with the Foundation that it would be beneficial for the Herbarium which is currently housed in substandard conditions in the Department to be located within the Laboratory. This unique facility will be used as an archive for its 1.1 million specimens and provide research laboratories, a support library, and an office. Within the private working area of the Botanic Garden, some existing facilities need to be demolished in order to construct the new Laboratory. Operational and environmental benefits will follow by taking this opportunity for demolition and renewal of buildings and other structures, including experimental glasshouses and storage areas which are reaching the end of their operational life. In addition, a new barn will replace the existing barn, close to but detached from, the Laboratory.

4. The proposed site of the Sainsbury Laboratory, as shown on the accompanying site plan, is embedded entirely in the existing private, research, and working part of the Garden. As befits its location in the Botanic Garden, the integration of the building and landscape is a key aspect of the design. High quality building materials will be used, chiefly stone cladding externally, as being appropriate for the building in this setting. The new building will be of 8,325 sq.m. net internal floor space and gross total building area of 11,011 sq.m. The Laboratory will comprise a basement, ground, and first floor levels. The basement will house mechanical and electrical plant rooms and the Herbarium; the ground floor will house reception, a lecture theatre, meeting rooms, support facilities, a kitchen, and a café for the laboratory; the first floor will house the laboratory space, write-up areas, and research support facilities. The support facilities on the ground floor will include accommodation for the Garden's existing workshops, store rooms, lockers, showers, and staff room, which need to be re-located to provide the site for the new building.

5. The total budget for the whole scheme is £89.9m which is made up as follows: Sainsbury Laboratory including the barn, £82.5m; Herbarium, £3m; site re-provision works, £4.4m. The University will contribute £4.4m from SRIF4 funds and £0.5m towards management fees (from the New Buildings Enabling Fund). The remainder of the cost will be met by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation on the understanding that within twelve months of Practical Completion the University will reimburse the Foundation for the estimated building costs and fitting-out works of the Herbarium. In the interim period the University will intensify the fund-raising campaign to meet the cost of the new Herbarium.

6. A phased programme of work has been established to minimize disruption to the Botanic Garden and residents in the adjoining streets.

7. Outside the private area, as part of the re-provision works, the refurbishment of No 1 Brookside will be undertaken, together with provision of a new entrance to the Botanic Garden at the corner of Bateman Street and Trumpington Road, which will replace the existing constricted entrance off Bateman Street. The new entrance to the Botanic Garden will be much more visible and will create an entrance which appropriately reflects the size and significance of the Garden. The refurbishment of No 1 Brookside will provide teaching facilities on the ground floor and administrative space on the first floor for the Garden, and a new shop to replace the existing shop in the Gilmour building. This refurbishment will allow Cory Lodge to be vacated as part of the phased programme of work to re-locate personnel and vacate the site of the proposed new Laboratory.

8. The Council recommends:

I. That approval be confirmed for the construction of a new building for the Sainsbury Laboratory at the Botanic Garden as proposed in this Report.

II. That the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) be authorized to accept a tender, within the available funding, for the building and all associated works in due course.

26 November 2007 ALISON RICHARD, Vice-Chancellor WILLIAM BROWN D. W. B. MACDONALD