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Silver winner

Employer: Skanska

Project: The Tower, London

Graham Mercer’s experience, commitment and close control made a success of this major refurbishment project alongside the non-stop traffic that surges around the capital’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’. The substantial technical complexities included extending the floor plate on two sides, building three new storeys, forming two new lift shafts and refurbishing the four existing shafts, and replacing the cladding with a unitised system.

Securing the contract following the failure of the phase 1 contractor to agree terms, Graham showed the flexibility, the determination and the technical mastery needed to catch up with the moving train of a project accelerating fast on multiple fronts.

Key to the dovetailing of his works with the already busy demolition contractor’s was his decision to provide structural support (simple bolt-on steel channels) for the existing columns as the demolition scaffold was struck, saving the client £300,000. His replacement of the intended stick-based cladding with a unitised version speeded up the construction programme and laid down a guaranteed date for releasing the toilet fit-out without additional scaffolding.

When time was lost through client variations (the introduction of showers in the basement, a switch from fan coil to chilled ceilings) or site discoveries (a deep mass fill of concrete found in the piling location for one of the new cores), he resequenced and innovated to regain programme. He designed the cladding to allow temporary waterproofing to the perimeter, so fire-stopping and acoustic barriers could be installed before the project was watertight, and constructed bunds over floor service openings so that fit-out could progress without risk of water damage from above.

Graham encouraged all the team to speak up without fear of ridicule or belittlement to capture practical, productive and rewarding site solutions. His leadership resulted in an increase in net floor area by extending the perimeter glazing out from the slab edge to the double-height space, changing boarded structure finishes to skim finishes, and making the drylining hug the ductwork.