Andrew Ryan’s ‘do whatever it takes’ motto hit the spot on this refurbishment and new-build of two performing arts spaces. When the tender sum came in at close to double the contract budget, he interrogated just about every aspect of the scope to value-engineer without crushing the client’s quality hopes.
One of his great strengths was his previous experience of constructing a high-spec performing arts facility for another school. Aware that many tender elements were unnecessary to achieve the client’s desired standard and level of finish, Andrew was confident he could surpass expectations within the budget. When the initial design involved a mix of plasterboard and cedar cladding in one of the halls, he suggested installing facing brickwork panels instead. He put in the many hours needed to find the bricks with the Goldilocks texture (not too rough, nor too smooth), which were not only cheaper but also gave better acoustic performance.
His changes in specification and materials covered every aspect of the scheme right down to the scenery hoists – and even the stage drapes. He dispensed with heavy-gauge velour in favour of a lightweight serge that was easier to move quickly.
Performing the construction equivalent of keyhole surgery, he inserted into a live building a 300-seat auditorium with full stage and backstage, and a vast amount of sound and lighting equipment. When it turned out that the existing walls of what had been a school hall were timber frame, not masonry, and couldn’t support the planned roof structure, he developed a self-supporting portal frame whose sections could be craned in and assembled in situ. He then swapped the building’s intended new timber roof (now no longer compatible with the steel-frame portal) for a metal sheet, perforated to aid the acoustics, and an insulative single-ply membrane buildup.