CMYA Finalist

Employer: Mid Group

Project: Robert Clack School, Dagenham

On the strength of a successful previous school project for the client, Mike O’Dell moved straight onto this one. For this expansion project for one of the biggest secondary schools in Europe – over 2,000 pupils enrolled and 2,500 envisaged – he exploited over a decade of off-site experience to construct two teaching blocks on two separate sites largely by fabricating them in factories and then assembling them on site.

Following a failed procurement that came in a third over budget, Mike was asked to review the project and see if it could be delivered to the client’s budget, specification and programme. One of the conditions was to design and build a new year-seven teaching block in time for the start of the coming school year – just seven months away.

How can that possibly be done? By a total embrace of factory-build and BIM (3D modelling in software). With no time to go through a traditional subcontractor procurement process, Mike agreed a price and programme with all subcontractors at the outset, benchmarked to his previous school project.

He then took on the manufacturers’ standard design details – wall buildups, connection details, the MEP, and even all the furniture – placed them as components in the BIM library, and asked the designers to use them from day one. It avoided long lead-in periods for the construction works and minimised the design time required by the manufacturers. Within a fortnight of the contracts being signed, structural insulated panels were in manufacture and able to be delivered to site. Not only did manufacturing standardisation accelerate design, delivery and installation, the reduction in ‘specials’ cut costs.

Nor was BIM Mike’s only use of technology to achieve the project goals. With early decisions having to be made about services and fittings and furnishings on this super-fast-track project, he also had the head teacher, the client and other stakeholders walk through the building using a VR headset. This enabled client decisions on coordination and layout in completed rooms long before the project arrived on site.

Mike finished the year-seven block in time for the new academic year and handed over the second block within 12 months – all while respecting the budget limitations. Based on this sort of success, the client has awarded the constructor further contracts.