Construction at the Royal College of Physicians’ new £35-million northern headquarters reaches key milestone

A key milestone at Morgan Sindall Construction’s work at The Spine – the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP) new £35-million northern headquarters in Paddington Village, Liverpool City Council’s development site– has been celebrated with a ceremony to mark the building reaching its highest point.

Located within the 450-acre Knowledge Quarter Liverpool (KQ Liverpool) Mayoral Development Zone, Paddington Village is a £1 billion expansion site east of the city centre which, when complete, will be a key part of one of the UK’s leading innovation districts – incorporating new science, technology, education and health space.

The 160,000 square foot building, called The Spine and designed by architects AHR, will be one of the healthiest workspaces for mental health and physical wellbeing in the UK, and is aspiring to be among the first to achieve the International Platinum WELL standard of modern building design when it opens its doors next year. It also represents the first Grade-A office building in the Liverpool City Region for more than a decade.

Named after the prominent staircase that runs up the north elevation of the building, the Spine’s lower and upper floors will be occupied by the RCP. The RCP represents over 37,000 doctors throughout the world, and The Spine will form the organisation’s new northern centre of excellence.

The topping out event was attended by representatives of Morgan Sindall Construction, Liverpool City Council, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, KQ Liverpool and the RCP.

The Spine’s unique layout and design will serve as the perfect backdrop for the RCP’s leading healthcare professionals and staff, enabling its team to foster innovation in a pioneering atmosphere of collaboration and partnership.  Designed with the health and wellbeing of its occupiers as a priority, both the architecture and interior design employ biophilic design principles, with strong connections to nature established throughout the building.

Likewise, the remaining seven floors will offer a flexible range of innovative, contemporary workspaces designed to meet the needs of organisations in the health, technology, science and education sectors.

A dedicated exhibition space on the first floor will connect via a staircase to a ground floor café and foyer, while the higher floors, which are circa 11,550 square feet, will enjoy some of the best views of the city thanks to floor-to-ceiling glazing throughout.

Externally, the façade for The Spine has been designed taking inspiration from human skin. A striking Voronoi pattern includes 23 million individual polygons applied in a frit pattern to the glazing of the building, while a curtain wall system has been used, which helps to give a distinct connection to nature for occupants of the building.

The Spine will also boast an internal sky garden, complete with high-oxygen producing plants, rooms available for hire for conferences, meetings and dining, a large bicycle and shower facility in the  under croft in addition to car parking featuring five electric charging points.

Arup provided a range of engineering design services including civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP), facades, fire and acoustics.

Richard Potts, Morgan Sindall Construction’s area director for Liverpool, said: “Through KQ Liverpool, the council is helping to drive the Liverpool City Region’s economy forward by focusing on knowledge-intensive jobs in science, education, healthcare and technology. This bold approach will prove crucial to the future growth of the city’s economy, and we’re very proud to be playing a key role in this through our work at Paddington Village.

“Today’s event was a brilliant opportunity for those of us involved in creating this iconic new building to celebrate the progress made so far. It’s a real privilege for Morgan Sindall Construction to help deliver such a stunning design, and we look forward to working closely with our partners on the project as the Spine approaches completion.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “The Spine is a stunning building and very much reflects the 21st century. Its unique design and distinctive look also symbolises the ambitions we have for Paddington Village – to create an innovation district to rival any in the UK and Europe. I’m delighted the RCP will be calling this their northern home. They are joining a fantastic roster of world class institutions and am sure will help attract others to join them. Of course, it’s not just about beautiful buildings. Paddington Village is stimulating new jobs and new investment, creating opportunities that will fuel our economy and strengthen the Liverpool Powerhouse for decades to come.”

RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard said: “Our new northern home The Spine is making fantastic progress and is definitely making its mark on the Liverpool landscape.  Its design and facilities will support our doctors and staff in improving patient care and I’m really excited about the building opening in 2021.”

Robert Hopkins, regional director at architecture and building consultancy practice, AHR, said, “It’s been fantastic to see The Spine come to life at Knowledge Quarter Liverpool. As the building has grown, we’ve all seen first-hand just how inspiring this biophilic workplace will be. From the distinctive Voronoi panels to the striking geometric staircase; the trabecular columns to the abundant internal space – the innovation throughout has reflected the ambitious and pioneering nature of this new northern home for the RCP.

“Our collective approach to The Spine was always to create more than a headquarters, providing a catalyst for a new chapter in the history of the RCP, increasing their ability to reach out and communicate to their members, fellows and the wider public. We’re delighted with the results and look forward to the completion of this lasting, positive and healthy workspace.”

The event took place at the Knowledge Quad, Morgan Sindall Construction’s multi-purpose training and learning facility based onsite at Paddington Village. Focused around the pillars of skills, education, employment and discovery, the Knowledge Quad uses construction to inspire a generation, and to instil Liverpool City Council’s vision of inclusive growth into the Paddington Village development from its very foundations.

At 30 acres, Paddington Village, which was once the site of a now relocated secondary school, is being developed by Liverpool City Council in three phases: Paddington Central, Paddington South and Paddington North, with Morgan Sindall Construction undertaking numerous projects as part of the first phase.