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Plant Science Center Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners

A walkway, staircase and bridge in an atrium The laboratories of the plant research institute are stacked three stories high on each side of an atrium; they are reached by walkways that run on each floor at the sides of the atrium and are connected by bridges and staircases.

The atrium is designed as the main circulation hub and as a 'break-out' space for casual meetings.Formal meetings are held in elliptical pod-like rooms, which project at the north end of each walkway and give views of greenhouses through the glazed entrance wall.The two staircases cascade down from the walkways to the main entrance level, from which the refectory and auditorium are reached.

Walkways, bridges and staircases are of similar components; they are supported by canted steel props and have identical balusters of tapered steel.The bridge, meeting room pods and walkways are framed with steel; the staircases are formed of folded steel plate treads and risers welded to pairs of steel channel strings with flanges facing inwards.

The bridge has a glazed balustrade of 12mm toughened and laminated glass panels fixed between the balusters and clamped at the base to steel glazing beads.The top of each glass panel is set in a stainless-steel channel. A maple leaning rail is fixed to the tops of the balusters with cranked steel plates.

Staircases have balustrades of maple-veneered plywood bolted to the balusters by steel plates with radiused edges.A stainless-steel handrail is fixed to the tops of the balusters with cranked steel plates.The atrium is not air conditioned; tempered air is directed into the space from aluminium-faced bulkheads in the soffits of the walkways and bridge.

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