Name: Mark Powell MCIOB
Employer: Wates Construction Ltd
Project: Manor Church of England School, York
Contract: JCT 2005
It looks more like a £25m scheme than the £16m it actually cost and, according to the contentedly compliment-lapping users, exudes a quality that leaves its visitors stunned. And that makes Mark Powell’s achievement on this heavily budget-constrained project all the more satisfying.
When Mark realised that the costs were way above client’s budget, he set about inspiring the whole project team to find buildability and best practice solutions. His collaborative approach and understanding of the design aspiration won the trust of the design team, and his inclusive style likewise brought the supply chain in on the value-engineering act.
With £2m to find, Mark subjected every aspect of the project to rigorous scrutiny while protecting design flair and precious client-led items. He replaced the aluminium roof with a single-ply covering, rationalised the building layout, reduced the height of the building, put in an attenuation lake rather than attenuation tanks, eliminated terracotta cladding in favour of painted render, and simplified the services.
As the project proceeded and provisional items were instructed, the budget shrank. Mark accordingly led a second wave of value creation, including the omission of the sports pitch maintenance from the contract (the user already had a grounds contractor that it wanted to retain), a simplification of the landscaping works, and a reduction in the number of data outlets.
But what makes Mark’s project leadership so admirable is that he achieved these savings while enhancing the users’ agenda. He quickly identified user concerns about narrow corridors creating bottlenecks, poor ventilation and overheating, compromised acoustics, and a completion date too late for a successful decant.
He then addressed them. Wider circulation areas and mixed-mode ventilation were introduced into the design, and detailed acoustic drawings produced. And he reprogrammed the build to hand the project over six weeks earlier than agreed to make the decant work. As the head teacher said: “Mark ensured that we have the dream school we want, on time and within budget.”