CMYA Finalist

Employer: Bowmer & Kirkland

Project: Waterside Campus, University of Northampton

This was a behemoth of a project. With industry, composure and a top-to-toe technical grasp, Nick McQuaid led the contractor’s largest scheme to date. The project involved delivering six campus buildings for academic, admin and leisure functions as well as an extensive renovation of a grade-II listed building.

While Bowmer + Kirkland was the principal contractor, there were other main contractors installing the infrastructure, building a student village and constructing an energy centre for the wider £330m university, and up to 800 operatives on site. The sheer scale of the scheme put Nick’s organisational, people management, collaborative and liaison skills under intense and constant scrutiny. His on-time, on-budget delivery, with the final account agreed before practical completion, is a sure signal of his overwhelming success.

With the project significantly over budget, his promotion of collaboration with the client’s professional team brought efficient value engineering and innovation. While still managing his previous project, Nick put in an enormous amount of time and effort in the precontract period to generate over £10m of cost savings to reach the target budget.

Leveraging his experience with a specialist concrete frame installer on a previous project, he switched two buildings from reinforced frame to post-tensioned. This produced savings from reduced slab thicknesses and reinforcement, in turn decreasing the loadings on the piles to capture further savings. Financial gains came from removing the paint finish for the concrete frames, with ground blast furnace slag added to the concrete mix instead – another lesson gained from the previous project.

But the biggest gain of all came from his revisiting of the bulk excavation works. The original plan of removing all surplus off the former power station site imposed an enormous cost, as 35,000 cubic metres consisted of contaminated soil. Nick’s extensive redevelopment of the public realm works allowed its safe retention on site.