Life Sciences Complex, Francesco Bellini and Cancer Buildings, Mcgill University

This new, highly specialized biomedical research complex meets the needs of the Science and Medicine Faculties, as well as those of the McGill University Health Centre. Scientists working in target fields will benefit from a multidisciplinary environment with integrated specialized technical cores. The narrow, segmented buildings allow all offices and laboratories to enjoy natural light and beautiful views; offices have windows that open in order to improve occupant well-being. A celebration of life, they are punctuated by public areas to encourage meetings and exchanges, making for a pleasant, friendly workplace.







Université McGill

Surface Area

17,450 m2




Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc.




Pageau Morel


SDK et Associés


Groupe Séguin Lacasse


Tom Arban, Marc Cramer


Gold NC LEED Certification

The placement of the building on the site was one of the project’s biggest challenges, for several reasons. In technical terms, the site is very narrow, presented a steep drop and part of it was occupied by an existing underground parking facility. It was also located very close to several heritage houses in the Golden Square Mile, as well as the Mont-Royal protected zone. A 17,000 square meter facility had to be built, but it had to appear smaller if agreement was to be obtained from all stakeholders. Our team also supported the contractor in carrying out its first LEED project. The contractor was dedicated to the success of the project and worked very hard to complete it.

Sustainable Site Development
To encourage the use of alternative transportation and minimize the heat island effect, no new parking spaces were added to the site. However, the building is located less than 700 meters from the Peel subway station and within 400 meters of at least three bus routes. Forty parking spaces for bicycles were added, along with 5 showers and a change room. All landscaping on the ground and the 625 m2 green roof was done with native plants that require no irrigation. Lastly, the night lighting on the site was designed for efficiency and to avoid scattering light toward the sky.

The complex’s new pavilions are harmoniously integrated on a site bordered by the historical residences of the “Golden Square Mile” to the East and the natural heritage of Mount Royal Park to the North. The steep slope of the site from North to South is ideal for a stepped construction, where each component houses a specific function and all building services are located underground. Also, considering the fact that it was built in a very dense urban area, the construction had to allow the adjacent buildings to continue their operations. Located in a dense urban area, ensuring the continued operations of adjacent buildings during construction presented an additional logistical constraint.

With the addition of these two pavilions to their current medical research installations, McGill University will gather together one of the most significant groups of Life Science researchers in Canada.

The gross floor area of 17,450 m2 is divided as follows:

  • 90 laboratory modules with 30 support modules;
  • A core of specialized scientific equipment;
  • An animal supply facility with 22,400 cages which 2,800 in a transgenic unit;
  • 65 offices;
  • 5 seminar rooms.


National Urban Design Awards - Certificate of Merit, Urban Architecture category, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA)


Finalist - Award of Excellence, Institutional category, Ordre des Architectes du Québec

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