Royal College of Surgeons\

Transforming surgery for tomorrow

World-class headquarters for the Royal College of Surgeons, preserving the Grade II* Listed building and extending to create a home for surgical excellence in Britain.

The project is a large new build extension and refurbishment of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) facing Lincoln's Inn Fields, one of the most important historic open spaces in London. The Grade II* listed building was originally built in 1806-13 by George Dance and then extensively re-built by Charles Barry in 1834-36. The project provides new facilities for the RCS including flexible teaching spaces, examination rooms, function rooms, a cafe and a large glazed central atrium, promoting cross fertilisation of knowledge through shared flexible and social working environments. The project also includes the redesign and relocation of the historic Hunterian Museum.

The challenge

Following extensive bomb damage in World War II, much of the building was rebuilt in the 1950s. Since then, piecemeal development has taken place creating a disorientating and inefficient layout. Hawkins\Brown was appointed to reimagine the RCS headquarters, consolidating their existing accommodation from two buildings into one. The challenge was to create a new state-of-the art facility that respects and enhances the listed fabric.

The big idea

The new building will provide more flexible and more efficient space, bringing it in line with modern standards, to meet the current and future needs of the college, and allow economical running costs.

The magnificent original library will be sensitively refurbished providing a dual purpose as both library and grand function space.

The Hunterian Museum will be redesigned and returned to its original location on the ground floor, making it more visible and accessible to the public.

A new additional entrance and cafe space at the rear allows the building and new museum to maximise its public face and permeability at street level. The new atrium acts as an extension of the museum, allowing access up into the heart of the building, whilst maintaining a clear line of security to private spaces beyond. New level access is provided sensitively to the listed front entrance, and to the rear.

The small detail

The team pro-actively researched the existing fabric with a 3D BIM survey, analysis of archive drawings and intrusive site surveys, to understand the capabilities and opportunities of the existing building. This enabled our proposals to bring the existing fabric up to modern day standards, whilst respecting the sensitivities of a listed building, and understanding the complexities of its construction.

The design concept creates a clear delineation between old and new, with the retained rear interfacing facade acting as a palimpsest, celebrating the history of the building. Research into archive material allowed us to draw inspiration from the original building, and its great museum halls destroyed in WWII. The design of the atrium rooflight references the original vaulted roof of the museum.

“The redevelopment of our Lincoln’s Inn Field buildings is an important step for us in realising our vision to lead British surgery into the 21st century. The new building will give us the best possible facilities for the profession and the visitors to our museum while embracing our prestigious heritage.”

Professor Derek Alderson President of the Royal College of Surgeons

Project Summary

Project Team

Project Manager: Lendlease
Cost Consultant:Artelia
Structural & Civil Engineer: AECOM
Landscape Architect: BD Landscape
Planning Consultant: Gerald Eve
Heritage Consultant: Montagu Evans


  • BD Architect of the Year Awards 2018 - Public Building Architect of the Year - Shortlisted

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