Name: Mike Hedges
Employer: Wates Construction
Project: Kings Orchard, Bristol
Contract: JCT 1998 with contractor’s design
Focused leadership and a determination never to let a constantly unfolding design process trip him up were the hallmarks of Mike Hedges’ successful stewardship of this demanding project.
The scheme aimed to close up the open side of the U-shaped building to create a doughnut-shaped floorplate, with the courtyard making way for an enclosed atrium, which would add 30,000 sq ft of office space to the building. Given the complexity of the structural alterations – the courtyard-facing walls and shear walls had to be removed, and the steel-framed new build linked into the original building – the unexpected came thick and fast.
Fortunately for the contract, Mike displayed the admirable ingenuity of the seasoned construction manager. So when spoil sampling identified material as hazardous that the consultant’s report had implied was not, Steve moved fast to close out the unpleasant financial implications of removal for Wates, which bore the risk on ground contamination. He did so by developing the design of the gas membrane under the ground floor slab to a specialist lining that was impermeable to hydrocarbons, allowing the contaminated material to remain onsite.
And when the logistics plan made plain there was no space within the footprint of the city centre site for the site offices and welfare accommodation, Mike opportunistically seized on a 6m spur from the large floating harbour on the site boundary. He instigated a plan to design a gantry to span the stream and support a double-stacked row of site cabins – a smart use of dead space to maximise working space and simplify visitor segregation from site workers.
The entire project was a constant battle to stay up with an extremely fast-paced programme where the client instigated a great many changes, but it was one that Mike won in style.
From specifying a stronger concrete mix for faster strength gain and strike times to pouring the top floor slab ahead of the lower floors so he could progress the roof and preserve the critical start date for the M&E plant works, Mike gave a tremendous display of fleet-footed flexibility that achieved everything the client wanted, and more.