Crowning glory: CMYA winner Tim Hare’s Quadrant 3
Innovation, gender equality, sustainability, BIM… Whatever the issue CMYA winner Tim Hare embraced it on London’s Quadrant 3 project. Elaine Knutt spoke to him after the event. Photographs by Ed Tyler
Up on stage at the Grosvenor to collect his 2012 Construction Manager of the Year Award, Sir Robert McAlpine’s Tim Hare responded to questions on The Crown Estate’s Quadrant 3 project from awards host Hazel Irvine with laid-back poise and low-key humour. So it was hardly a surprise when Hare revealed himself as something of a jazz man. Asked by Irvine whether working in congested Soho and Piccadilly had presented problems, he replied that he enjoyed the Soho scene, and “working next to Ronnie Scott’s”.
Later, discussing life on site and off, the youthful-looking 60-year-old described himself as an avid consumer of plays, exhibitions and concerts, but sadly not a participant. “I would have loved to play an instrument to a professional standard, but it’s all too late now,” he smiles. But hang on, isn’t construction management a performance, directing the team, feeling the heat of the spotlight, building up to that all-important finale? Hare considers, before adding drily: “It is a performance, but you can’t put it on a DVD.”
Nevertheless, in the mixed-use Quadrant 3 project off London’s Regent Street, Hare undoubtedly delivered an all-round show-stopper. The £300m project for The Crown Estate and development manager Stanhope involved demolition of all but the original four corner sections of the grade II listed Regent Palace Hotel — amounting to half the facade — then building a modern insert containing seven floors of offices around a stunning central atrium, five retail units and nine apartments by architect Dixon Jones. The retained portions included stunning Art Deco restaurant and bar interiors, which were removed for off-site restoration.
“In effect, we totally recycled the building. We left the four corners and demolished everything else, then we took away the original features and restored them,” says Hare. That decision — one of Hare’s contributions to the construction methodology — involved painstaking removal of timber veneer, marble, brass, mirrors, ceilings, and even wallpaper with equally painstaking labelling to allow it all to be put back together again.
Hare acknowledges that this sacrificed a sense of historical continuity to project management pragmatism, and says he had to overcome some resistance in the process. “For architects, restoration means leaving things in place, as you found them. But we took the view that there was more risk from damage from other construction works than removing them offsite,” he recalls.
Hare’s team completed the project four months early, an achievement that allowed the client to have the building 70% let on completion.
The single largest contribution to this achievement was a temporary works solution, by subcontractor Alternative Access Logistics. As an alternative to bird-cage scaffolding, it built a 450m2 platform spanning the atrium at high level, supporting a scaffold that allowed the roof structure to be completed as works progressed below. So it sounds like the temporary works were risky and innovative? “Both!” Hare laughs. “The client took some persuasion, but he was very pleased with the result.”
But he also credits BIM as a contributor to the accelerated programme, with integrated design models delivering the much-discussed but seldom-measured savings in time and cost. “We only had to do things once, we didn’t cut a single hole in a single piece of steelwork,” he states. And while Hare concedes that it might not include all the scheduling and performance data expected on BIM models today, he points out that the decision to adopt BIM was made in 2008 with impressive far-sightedness.
The works for Quadrant 3 took place in the congested site near Regent Street
The project also featured a basement combined heat and power plant, which supplies other buildings in the area. It was part of its strong sustainability credentials (including BREEAM excellent) that impressed former US vice president and climate change activist Al Gore, whose company Generation Investment Management let the top floor of the office block — but not before thoroughly checking its credentials on three visits. Hare says Gore particularly commended the work of Sir Robert McAlpine’s sustainability manager and “gave me a pat on the back for allowing her to do her job”.
The sustainability manager was part of an SRM team that Hare says was 25% female, a factor he chose to highlight in his Q&A with Hazel Irvine on the podium, drawing a contrast with the CMYA as a whole and the fact that it featured just one female finalist. Having more women on the team, he says, makes a marked difference to culture and attitudes on site. “It’s been said before, but everyone behaves better, men and women, and it takes away some of the machismo of construction. If it’s all men, we tend to get too confrontational about things.”
Hare, a chartered engineering technician, joined the erstwhile Property Services Agency after graduation, later moving to Tarmac and then its construction management division Schal. From there, he moved to a more hands-on operational role at Sir Robert McAlpine in 1998. His speciality there seems to be central London projects, completing the £90m new build offices at 30 Gresham Street in 2003, and New Street Square near Fleet Street in 2008. “I just get on the central line at Ealing Broadway, and it takes me to work,” he jokes.
Both the above projects took him to the finals of the CMYA, suggesting that Hare has been operating at the peak of his profession for over a decade. His next project — again on the Central Line, and again a high-spec, high-profile office development — could make it four in a row.
In 2012, Hare shared his moment in the spotlight with McAlpine colleague and CMYA silver medallist Michael Breton, saying on the awards podium that the honour was heightened by being achieved in the same year as the Olympic Stadium. The fact that Hare impressed the judges more than the construction manager of that universally admired and nationally-important building testifies to his skill and achievements, while his public generosity testifies to the gentlemanly good manners that have undoubtedly helped take him to the top.
Awards reflect the changing nature of construction
Each year, the Construction Manager of the Year Awards celebrates the cream of construction management. But the finalists and the projects they represent — presented in full over the following pages — chart interesting shifts in the industry and profession.
In an era of slimmed-down public sector budgets, it was noticeable that projects at the lower end of the value scale were better represented than in previous years. It suggests that the flipside of the industry’s loss of higher-value projects is the client’s gain, with top-flight management skills benefiting smaller projects that might once had fielded the “B” team.
They included several projects for charities — Help for Heroes, Guide Dogs, a children’s hospice, and Maggie’s Cancer Centre — with top managers showing what they can do when stretching the budget while maintaining quality is critical.
At the other end of the scale were the seven finalists who delivered projects over £100m, bucking the national trend for more modest projects. This included three construction managers nominated for work at the Olympic Park — the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre and Athletes’ Village.
According to CMYA consultant Chris Richards, this year’s awards also attracted more entries from younger project managers, while around 40% of nominees were non-CIOB members.
Richards adds that BIM emerged as a feature in many projects. “We look to a future where it’s embedded in all projects,” he said.
Around 15% of the entries were from companies that had never previously featured in the CMYA line-up. These included Europe’s largest contractor Vinci, and Baxall Construction, an SME Chartered Building Company from Kent. McAleer & Rushe of Northern Ireland, Sunderland’s Gentoo, fit-out contractor Simpson (York), Scottish housebuilder CCG and Bouygues were also represented for the first time.
According to CMYA project manager Adam Hollis, the number of entries has been consistent for the past three years, despite the reduced volume of workload in that period. “Since the recession, the CMYA awards have perhaps been even more important to contractors and individuals,” he commented.
Every nominee for the awards was interviewed by the judges in person, with 22 CIOB members and fellows making up 11 two-man judging teams. The only exception was Andrew Hill of Lend Lease, shortlisted for Birmingham’s Ormiston Academy, who had taken up a role in Moscow and was interviewed via Skype.
But sadly, one finalist was missing on the night. Nigel Moore of Shepherd Construction, finalist in the £40m-£100m category, died in October after a short illness.
For details of all the gold and silver medallists in all the CMYA categories visit www.cmya.co.uk