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Construction Manager of the Year 2018: Secondary Education

25 October 2018

Gold winner: UTC Portsmouth

GOLD: Matt Crookes - BAM Construct UK

Project: UTC Portsmouth. Construction of three-storey academy in existing school’s playing fields, with engineering workshops,
a lecture theatre, classrooms, catering facilities and a sports hall, natural ventilation and roof-mounted solar panels. Completed in 60 weeks.

Contract: JCT 2011, design and build

Value: Tender £10m, final contract £11m

This three-storey new-build school had faced widespread local opposition, presenting Matt Crookes with an immediate stakeholder liaison challenge.

He won their hearts and minds by personally facilitating scores of site visits, rolling out the red carpet for MPs, university vice chancellors, Royal Navy Sea Lords, business leaders and potential sponsors. Crookes also hosted a construction expo and careers fair on site, inviting hundreds of local children and residents, and laying on cherrypicker rides and power tool try-outs.

During the build, his philosophy was to put less in and get more out. He introduced acoustic lighting rafts with integrated fire detection, replaced suspended ceilings with exposed soffits, and stepped the ground-floor slab to minimise the reduce-dig.

His site management was driven by a desire for experience and quality. Crookes appointed a site manager with crane expertise to be lifting coordinator, and with limited M&E experience on the team, he arranged for a local building services manager to do periodic quality inspections.

SILVER: Mel McMahon FCIOB - Farrans

Silver winner: Harris Academy Tottenham (phase 2), London

Project: Harris Academy Tottenham (phase 2), London. Refurbishment of two teaching blocks and construction of new three-storey block. Works included installation of two link bridges, a new playground and a car park. Completed in 60 weeks.

Contract: JCT 2011, design and build

Value: Tender £11m, final contract £11m

Mel McMahon joined this project six weeks towards the end of its first phase, which was four weeks behind schedule, with sequencing disjointed and site relationships strained.

Other finalists

Danny Buckley MCIOB, Morgan Sindall - Oak Lodge School Centenary Building, Barnet
Declan Doherty MCIOB, Farrans - East London Arts and Music Academy
Brian Hanlon MCIOB, Willmott Dixon - Ysgol Glan Clwyd, St Asaph
Stephen Lee, Kier - Callywith College Bodmin
Andrew Ryan MCIOB, Shaylor Group - Bromsgrove School Performing Arts Facilities
Andy Shepherd MCIOB, Kier - STEM, Plymouth

His remedies included adding supply chain resource, evening working and restructuring the site team to target the areas that were furthest behind schedule.

This turned the project round, paving the way for a much slicker second phase, where McMahon’s value engineering saved the client £170,000.

His initiatives included substituting mobile cranes for a tower crane as well as cutting heavy prelim costs by wrapping multiple works into one subcontractor package.

Another of McMahon’s innovations was redesigning the substructure to eliminate ground beams, creating a flat slab linked to the pile caps, which avoided disturbing asbestos hot spots in the ground.

McMahon was also able to absorb £700,000 of variations within the original programme.

The project was completed 11 weeks early, with zero defects and snags – a significant achievement given the many complexities and an adjacent live school environment.

Category presented by Ian Eggers FCIOB, Construction Manager of the Year, 2000

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