Discovery Drive

An NBBJ-designed laboratory and office headquarters for Abcam forms part of Cambridge Biomedical Campus’s global healthcare village


Abcam, a global innovator in life-science reagents and tools, has moved into its new state-of-the-art global headquarters, Discovery Drive, on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC), a leading hub of healthcare, science and medical research. Designed by international architecture and design firm NBBJ, the 100,000-square-feet laboratory and office facility forms part of the second phase of CBC’s new global healthcare village, which is being jointly developed by Liberty Property Trust and Countryside Properties.


The new building is now home to more than 450 Abcam staff, from all departments, including R&D, laboratory, logistics, corporate and commercial. To support the company’s continued growth, the building provides seventy-five per cent more space, features fully-flexible laboratory configurations, and has new instrumentation and technology for enhanced scientific capabilities. It has also been designed to support agile working and provide introvert and extrovert workspaces.

Based on the interactive culture at Abcam, Discovery Drive’s interior design creates an open, connected, and collaborative workplace. NBBJ has achieved a flexible and efficient design by organising the building in two distinct volumes. This dual section can be seen from within the full-height atrium space connected by a central staircase. The feature stair links staggered floor plates of offices and laboratories, encouraging opportunities for ad hoc social interaction between floors.

The building’s striking exterior features parametrically designed extended fins and brises soleil, giving it a distinct identity and marking a new gateway to the south west entrance into the wider campus. Expansive glazing allows views out to the surrounding countryside, while ‘putting science on show’ by making the work within visually accessible to the public.

In addition, Discovery Drive has been developed to meet global sustainability standards, enhance employee wellbeing and help protect natural resources in the environment. The campus’s natural biodiversity is enhanced through indigenous planting, bird boxes, and landscape rainwater management using bioswales. A variety of hard and soft landscaping help to situate the building within the campus, and outdoor amenity spaces with integral cycle storage are provided for employees.


Cambridge Biomedical Campus, located two miles south of the city centre, is home to a unique combination of world-class biomedical research, patient care and education on a single site. The 2,300,000 square feet phase 1 extension to the campus has already been allocated to allow expansion for Cambridge University Hospitals Trust, The University of Cambridge, the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology, AstraZeneca and Royal Papworth Hospital.

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