CMYA Finalist

Employer: Beard Construction

Project: The Science Oxford Centre & Wood Centre for Innovation

It’s not so much the overburdened budget that kills the vision as the expectations that outstrip the project purse. Kenny Hale’s great achievement on this teaching and office scheme was to rally a client deeply disappointed by the initial chasm between budget and design and deliver a good-value project with a quality feel rather than an economy-build look.

Six months of Kenny’s value engineering produced £1m of crucial cost savings. He replaced the original expensive acoustic ceilings with an alternative that offered the same performance. He reduced the number of plasterboard boxings that had to be built around exposed steel beams by incorporating them within wall and ceiling voids. He rationalised the ceiling layout to include a prefinished exposed-decking soffit in less visible, high-level areas.

But the biggest costs victory came from Kenny applying his construction expertise. Not only did he highlight that the levels on the design drawings didn’t match the actual levels on one corner of the site where the ground fell away sharply into a valley, but he also came up with a far better solution than the structural engineer’s painfully expensive proposal for heavy-duty retaining walls. Kenny’s redesign of the foundations to create a stepped ground beam that allowed a cantilever design for the corner of the building saved the client a vast sum and maintained the programme.

He also realised early on that the ceiling service voids left little space for installation or future adaptations. Accordingly, he redesigned the services containment routes, taking the main runs out of the corridors to inside the rooms through the co-ordinated bulkheads where access panels were already required. Likewise, by running the containment route through the steel frame rather than under it, he was able to gain crucial ceiling height within the single-storey section and reduce the transitioning up and down past beams for the services subcontractor, thus speeding up installation.

Just as importantly, Kenny bent over backwards to accommodate requests for a score of stakeholder site visits from schools (25 pupils at a time), the university (40 people at a time), investors, the client’s governing body and local residents. The client has singled out this aspect of his management as a crucial contributor to its fundraising success.