Me and my project: Kristian Cartwright ICIOB

5 June 2017

The project manager at Willmott Dixon describes a very important project for the Met Office - and the world.

My last project was one of the highlights of my career. Willmott Dixon had won the £22.7m contract to build a new high-performance computer facility for the Met Office in Devon (above) in mid-2015.

It was a very high-profile flagship project that would take the capabilities of the Met Office to new levels in Britain and around the world and, so they told us, would deliver £2bn of economic benefit to the UK over the next five years. We had 64 weeks to deliver it, which was tight.

I came on board in July that year. I’d finished a school in Plymouth on Friday afternoon and started the following Monday. My job was to help project manage the construction of two buildings: the IT Hall, a “dark site” containing the specially commissioned supercomputer, one of the most powerful ever built, and the Collaboration Space, a versatile and flexible high specification office space. 

It was tremendously exciting to be involved in such an iconic project. The initial architect, Atkins, had come up with a very dramatic design that was technically complex. Without BIM, the engineering required would just not have been possible.

There were many technical issues to think through and my background as a carpenter came in very handy.

When I left school, I’d been self-employed working on some pretty difficult roofing jobs and that really helped with the angles and geometry on the weather centre.

I’ve been with Willmott Dixon for six years now. I joined as a management trainee when I was 25, having gained a degree in project and construction management at Swansea University.

When we finished in December 2016, on time and on budget, with zero defects, the Met Office wrote in our client satisfaction survey: “We were an immature client to start with, never having worked with BIM. But we were quickly very comfortable with Willmott Dixon, and always had confidence to agree changes and wait for the paperwork to follow. It felt like a collaborative team, which shared our vision for the project. The company was able to express its concerns honestly with us, which was not our perception of the industry previously.”

As you can imagine, I was pretty pleased with that!

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