With the planned removal of a vast quantity of land heavily contaminated by Japanese knotweed threatening to stall this biosciences research centre build before it even got to the start line, Nick White made the first of a series of inspired interventions that delivered – and indeed surpassed – the client’s aspirations.
His proposal to reuse the soil as structural material involved huge engagement with the Environment Agency, Network Rail (the East Coast mainline runs along the site) and the designers to consider the suitability of the material. Nick’s out-of-the-box thinking resulted in a detailed materials management plan that saved £400,000 by keeping all the contaminated material on site, allowing the contract to start on time and within budget.
By prefabricating the main elements of the bespoke cantilevered overhang roof off site, he cut down on the need for high-level welding and lifting/support systems. He reduced the site cutting and wastage involved in making individual brick panels on site from stock-sized bricks by producing a schedule to get as many cuts as possible from full-length bricks, forming the panels off site and delivering them on a pallet. It reduced brick wastage to below 2% compared with an anticipated 15%+ while improving quality and safety.
He quickly gained the trust of the client, essentially by involving end users (including senior teaching staff) in the design process. He set up a small team to work in partnership with the professors and lecturers and the client’s score of specialist suppliers (each with exacting design and infrastructure needs, strict installation criteria and the need for fully managed interfaces and design compatibility).
His promotion of collaboration delivered a building that was 100% bespoke and exactly what client and users wanted. It was an inspired move in the context of the highly specific M&E setup, where extensive fit-out coordination in the provision of purified water, specialist lab gases, gas production facilities and lab pressure dependencies cost £6.5m.
He handed over this complicated and challenging project defect-free within a budget that he had made achievable and to an outstanding level of quality. Naturally, the client is now in talks with Wates about its next build project.