Construction Manager of the Year Awards 2019 – Higher Education
GOLD: Rob Cooper, project leader, Laing O’Rourke
The Beecroft Building, Oxford University
Project: The Beecroft Building, Oxford University
Scope: Construction of 10-storey (five below ground) science building
Programme: 129 weeks
Client: Oxford University
In a high-profile site opposite the Grade I-listed Keble College Chapel, Rob Cooper sank a 10-storey tower clad in bronze, glass and copper halfway into the earth so that physicists could probe the most basic properties of nature.
With five storeys of basement, extending 17m down, Cooper had to construct structurally isolated “black box” lab spaces. The highly serviced labs have to allow temperature control to a tolerance of +/-0.1 degrees, plus observe stringent vibration isolation criteria for nano-scale experiments. Throughout the project, Cooper had to undertake vibration tests at agreed hold points with a specialist.
Cooper’s clever value engineering helped achieve the cost plan. He changed the main balustrade material from solid oak to solid tulipwood, staining it to achieve the desired effect.
Six months before handover, the joinery supplier’s factory burned to the ground, along with timber items for the project. To help get the factory back up and running, Cooper brought his supply chain in to help so the scheme was able to reduce the time lost to just three months. He finished on time and on budget.
SILVER: Nick White MCIOB, project manager, Wates Construction
Project: National Horizons Centre, Teesside University
Scope: Construction of three-storey science facility, completed in 55 weeks
Client: Teesside University
Contract: JCT 2016 D&B
The planned removal of vast quantities of earth contaminated by Japanese knotweed threatened to stall this biosciences research centre build, until Nick White made a radical proposal: reuse the soil as structural material.
After discussions with the Environment Agency and the designers, this approach resulted in £400,000 of savings, with all contaminated material kept on site, and the contract starting on time and within budget.
Simon Allen ICIOB, Mace, The Student Centre, University College London
Tony Fitzgerald MCIOB, Morgan Sindall Construction, Collaborative Teaching Laboratory, University of Birmingham
Nick McQuaid MCIOB, Bowmer & Kirkland, Waterside Campus, University of Northampton
Howard Monsen MCIOB, Kier Construction, IQ Building, University of Wales
Other efficiencies identified by White included prefabricating the main elements of the bespoke cantilevered overhang roof, cutting down on high-level welding and support systems.
He reduced site cutting and wastage in making brick panels by producing a schedule to get as many cuts as possible from full-length bricks, forming the panels off site and delivering them on a pallet – reducing brick wastage to below 2% compared with an anticipated 15%, while improving quality and safety.
The project was 100% bespoke, with highly specific M&E setup and extensive fit-out coordination required for purified water, specialist lab gases, gas production facilities and lab pressure dependencies, a package totalling £6.5m.
White handed over this challenging project defect-free within a budget that he had made achievable.
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