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Gold winner

Employer: Kier Construction

Project: Middlesbrough Town Hall

Refurbishment, in general, is replete with unknowns that can ultimately sink the project. Refurbishment of a grade II-listed building, with its typical legacy of more skeletons in more cupboards acquired over a longer period, just concentrates the risk still further while adding an extra burden of conservation compliance. Top that off with a failing pipeline of design information that threatens spiralling costs and programme delay and you will have a just appreciation of Jason Hartnell’s predicament on this project.

Rather than sitting back and presenting the client with the sobering issues or pointing the finger at design holdups, Jason tackled the problems as if he were in charge of a design and build contract. Proactive and forward-thinking, he planned the works meticulously, and engaged with the supply chain to find solutions, generate options and vary the works to save time and money without undermining quality.

Even before the build phase, he made an immense contribution by achieving the £400,000 of savings needed to take the project forward. He reappraised the specification of the back of house areas, while protecting the sumptuous quality finishes for the front of house. He realised the design intent of placing seamless glazed screens in the entrance lobby could not be achieved as they were too huge to be erected within the tight space – smaller replacements brought great savings.

Personally surveying the existing slate roofs, which were down to be replaced with new and reclaimed slates, Jason noticed that nearly all of them were still in good condition and if removed carefully could be reused – another big result.

He carried out a full survey of the building and found huge quantities of materials that could be salvaged for re-use, including mahogany feature panels, hardwood skirting boards, floor boards, existing doors, all of which had been down for replacement.

Pulling back the carpet in the back of house areas (scheduled to be replaced with new carpeting), he found old terrazzo floor tiles directly underneath throughout. The omission of new carpeting and the refurbishment of the old floor tiles not only provided commercial savings but also retained the existing features.

Instead of just proceeding with the replacement of the existing steel beams to withstand the new loads, he had the ornate steel structurally tested. The results proved they could indeed withstand the new loads being imposed, and so the original steel stayed, taking more pressure off the finances as well as eliminating the logistical difficulties of installing new beams within the confined working space.

Jason not only successfully brought the refurbishment works within the scope of the budget, he also brought in on time a project that was at one point 11 weeks late. He did it through hard work, long hours, unfaltering commitment, technical expertise and motivational can-do spirit.