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Me and my project: Galliford Try CM steers sports project to success

4 February 2020 | By Sam Dibaj

Carnegie Teaching and Research Building has a 60m sprint track on the roof

Galliford Try was appointed in 2018 to build a new state-of-the-art teaching and research building at Leeds Beckett University’s Headingley campus. The contract will see the creation of a new home for the Carnegie School of Sport. Sam Dibaj shares his experience of working on the project.

I joined Galliford Try nearly two years ago, drawn by the attraction of working on such a high-profile and prestigious build for Leeds Beckett University and the city of Leeds.

In my role as construction manager, I oversee the operations side of the project as well as managing the client and stakeholder expectations as they continue to operate an educational institution which sees approximately 5,000 staff, students and visitors a day.

Managing the logistics at the heart of a university campus is comparable to that of a city-centre project and needed to be treated similarly. Regular communication was vital with stakeholders throughout the university, ensuring that our works did not affect the daily routine of campus life.

Like many projects, one of the challenges we encountered were the existing services in the area. I worked closely with the university, bringing together people from many departments and areas to help identify ownership and proposals moving forward. Most of this work was carried out prior to the project commencing and not in contract. However, it helped build up an early relationship of trust with the university which continues two years on – this I felt was crucial to the success of the project.

The rooftop running track projects over the building facade

Students from local schools and colleges have also visited the project providing the opportunity to consider pursuing a career in construction, which is key to tackling the longstanding training and skills issues we have.

Leeds Beckett University has a long list of successful alumni and the Carnegie Teaching and Research (CTaR) Building will play a key role in the community, creating graduates who shape the future of sport in the region.

To strengthen this relationship, I have hosted Open Doors events and many site visits for staff and alumni from the university. This has given them an insight into the daily routine of site life with the aim of changing their perception of the construction industry.

“Managing the logistics at the heart of a university campus is comparable to that of a city-centre project and needed to be treated similarly. Regular communication was vital with stakeholders.”

Sam Dibaj, Galliford Try

The project is the result of a symbiotic relationship between designers and stakeholders, providing a contemporary addition to the historic campus, while reflecting the style of the existing buildings in mirrored architectural features. These features are enhanced by the choice of materials such as the acid-etched anodised aluminium panels – patterned with a design based on human muscles.

As the new centre for the Carnegie School of Sport, the CTaR building will be home to a wealth of outstanding facilities, including dedicated research laboratories, hyperbaric chambers, a health and wellbeing studio, a covered rooftop 60m sprint track for performance training and analysis, and a rooftop walking track and terrace.

Locating the indoor running track on the roof of the building provides both accessibility and flow to the building and an interesting architectural feature.

In addition, we are constructing an environmental chamber which can mimic different altitudes and environments, ranging from Mount Everest to the Sahara Desert to a tropical rainforest. This is a unique feature: there is no other comparable facility in the country. The technology is simple but with many unknowns.

I am proud to be working on such a fantastic project, one which will be directly attributable to future athletes and the development of research in academic field.

Sam Dibaj is a construction manager with Galliford Try

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