CMYA Finalist

Employer: Willmott Dixon Construction

Project: Aurora Building, Bristol

The BREEAM Outstanding recognition given to this six-storey new-build office block (the only building outside London to get the highest sustainability award) is one of the outstanding achievements of Gareth Williams’ leadership of the project.

It takes only a small lapse of focus in construction delivery, the sourcing of materials, management of waste on site, or commissioning of services or subcontractor management, and the necessary sustainability credits are lost, making the rating almost impossible to achieve as the margins are so tight there simply isn’t any room for error. Gareth, though, pulled off the near-mythic accomplishment with room to spare with a final score of 91%, well over the 85% threshold.

Environmental excellence wasn’t his only trump card. While the desire for the gold-standard BREEAM rating severely limited opportunities for value engineering, Gareth added value through innovation. With the specified integrated plumbing system costly and available only with a long lead-in, he found a local supplier that could provide the quality and make bespoke vanity troughs to suit the project’s layouts.

There was a difficult and time-consuming detail of installing the riser doors with a rebate around the door between the frame and plasterboard rather than an architrave. He dealt with it by finding a proprietary riser door that could be installed as a door-set against the plasterboard and skimmed in. It not only gave a better finish that was easier to control, but also saved time and cost while complying with the fire rating.

He overcame the technical difficulty of having no columns on a large floorplan (to create a clear area in the double-height reception) by developing downstand beams in the frame. A temporary column installed during construction was removed after the frame had been fully built.

And he smartly danced his logistics and access planning around a super-tight inner city urban site without bumping into the many other contractors on site at the same time (a hotel was being built on one side, a residential building on another and there were fit-out contractors working nearby as well) nor seeing his own project fall over.

On a first project for a new client and design team, Gareth impressed. The client has since engaged Willmott Dixon to construct nearly 200 apartments in two further residential blocks on the estate, and a further residential development will soon be added.