In some sense, every construction project is unique, with design, materials, methods and techniques varying widely on even similar-looking schemes, not to mention the individual ground, climatic, access and logistics challenges of each site. But Malcolm Boyd’s museum project is utterly idiosyncratic, with GPS coordinates required to position the formwork for the 300mm-thick twisting and folding external walls that jut out up to 20 metres over the silvery Tay.
Malcolm’s problem-solving approach to the challenges and planning of the works was exceptional. He delivered on time a project that many doubted could be delivered on time – and in some cases even built.
To take just a few examples. Instead of driving piles into the river bedrock to form a cofferdam so the scheme could be built on reclaimed land, he sat sheet piles on top of the bedrock. It reduced vibration to practically zero (a fundamental issue for safeguarding Scott of the Antarctic’s ship Discovery, at a neighbouring berth) and by simplifying the works allowed their completion before the start of the seal breeding season (overrun would have meant an eight-week works shutdown until after that season had finished).
Instead of building the inclined walls off what looked very like being programme-challenging cantilevered scaffolds, he integrated construction access into the shuttering for the concrete frame. By equipping each shutter with its own set of built-in timber stairs and a handrail, he was able to dispense with complex scaffolding for the concrete pours.
Realising that mechanical forklifts would be unable to position themselves at the correct angle for installing the precast planks on the lowest two storeys, he had a lifting frame and tilting table designed to allow horizontal movement and full flexibility. And for installing the precast facade for the upper storeys, he had a bespoke counterbalance rig designed that could be altered for the different sections and angles of the walls.
Malcolm’s calm head, strategic problem-solving and innovative mind, personal leadership in priority areas, and honesty, integrity and passion all helped him steer clear of the threatening storms that constantly loomed on the project horizon.