Consultants design new Cavendish III laboratory at University of Cambridge

28 December 2017 3 min. read

The Cavendish III laboratory is soon to be constructed at the University of Cambridge. The new facility will provide a highly sophisticated environment for fundamental physics research, as well as various teaching and public access facilities. The £300 million project, which received £85 million in funding from the Dolby family estate, has been partly designed by engineering consultancy, Ramboll.

The University of Cambridge is continuing its world-famous Cavendish Laboratory lineage, with the construction of the third laboratory to bear the name of Henry Cavendish – the discoverer of hydrogen. The former laboratories were presided over by some of the world’s most famous scientists. James Clerk Maxwell oversaw the first laboratory, opened in 1874, as its Director. Ernest Rutherford also spent a spell as its Director, while the laboratory hosted the work of Francis Crick and James Watson: the discoverers of DNA.

The latest installation, that of the laboratory ‘Cavendish III’, comes with a £300 million price tag. The project will eventually replace the current facilities, opened in 1974, which are now well beyond their intended lifespan, and which subsequently incur disproportionate costs due to their poor environmental performances. Following its demolition, the former laboratory will become the site for a new building for the university's Engineering department.

Consultants design new Cavendish III laboratory at University of Cambridge

The investment will be partly government funded, to the tune of £75 million, partly funded by the university itself, to the tune of £75 million, with the final £150 million to come from philanthropy. The largest trench of which, totalling £85 million, was donated by the Dolby family the estate of Ray Dolby, founder of Dolby Laboratories.

Aside from state-of-the-art laboratories, the new building will also provide space in which to communicate findings with student and wider audiences, through teaching labs, seminar rooms and two lecture theatres. The focus of the project will be to deliver a space that meets the requirements of the next generation of physics research, including a highly stable environment, as well as adaptability to future requirements. The public space, aims to facilitate the university’s extensive programme of work with schools and the public.

Ramboll has worked on the project since 2014, working with the department to provide technical consultancy related to civil, structural and vibration engineering design, for which the firm won a commission. In addition, with architects Jestico & Whiles, the firm also delivered acoustic and fire engineering design.

Commenting on the donation from Dolby’s legacy, Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope said, “This unparalleled gift is a fitting tribute to Ray Dolby’s legacy, who changed the way the world listened – his research paved the way for an entire industry.”

David Dolby, the son of Dolby Laboratories founder Ray, added, “Our family is pleased to be able to support the future scientists and innovators who will benefit from the thoughtfully designed Ray Dolby Centre.”