CMYA Finalist

Employer: Wates Construction

Project: The Quadram Institute, Norwich

When the client and the designer are equally thrilled with the on-time delivery of a technically complex landmark building that needed hefty value engineering just to get out of precontract, the construction manager deserves huge praise. So hats off to Damon for his fine leadership of this scheme for a four-storey food and health science research centre.

His value engineering was critical to project viability. Among the significant initiatives was the rationalisation of the handmade brickwork for the facade. Working with the architect, and engaging early with the supply chain, Damon saved £100,000 by designing out sloping reveals and inset windows that demanded large precast lintels to span a deep cavity. Instead, he reduced the cavity depth and replaced the reveals with a corbelling detail.

Drawing on his past experience of hospital and lab construction, Damon knew that starting the commissioning of the services early was critical. With the building’s large atrium presenting a formidable obstacle to making the building watertight, he developed a temporary waterproof deck to cover the atrium space, bringing forward the watertight date (and so the start of services commissioning) by 10 weeks.

The notorious services complexity of the sector was compounded in this project by the need for the laboratories and hospital housed in the same single building to operate independently of each other. He addressed the issue by establishing the closest of working relationships with the services contractor, embedding the MEP specialists within his own team.

With quality a key deliverable given the client’s ambition for a world-class facility able to attract talent from around the world, Damon allocated a far longer construction period for the stunning brickwork than would typically be anticipated. He also insisted that the brickwork contractor’s team consisted of tradespeople with experience and passion, rather than a collection of individuals chasing a programme. His approach delivered that desired stunning facade.

Damon rose to the location challenge with the same notable success. Identifying a local supply chain capable of meeting the project’s complex needs and quality standards was a constant issue, and required a far higher level of procurement to find contractors willing to travel to the area. Damon went beyond his usual supply chain and even changed methodology, prefabricating major elements of the services installation to reduce labour on site.