Employer: Kier

Project: Cheltenham Racecourse Re-development

With the client determined to run a full racing and events programme during this entire 20-month-long scheme, Paul Fowles’ race course project was much like a game of chess.

Every time the client held a race meeting, all construction work would come to a standstill so complete that you could be lulled into thinking nothing at all was going on. Paul moved his people around the board whilst The Jockey Club sought to move the racing public into the same spaces.

It involved rather more than just downing tools for a few days. For example, three weeks before the first race day of the project, Paul had 200 workers on site amid the gaping holes and piles of rubble of a race course that was now 50% construction site. He had to release most of that back to the client in time (and a 100% safe and decent state) for the first race meeting.

Paul pulled it off by reassuring the client with precisely detailed plans, indeed this was part of his contract winning strategy at tender stage. He also motivated a committed workforce to return all the working areas to an immaculate no-sign-of-construction condition for each race day. He then helped the client’s staff set up 36 hours before the public was welcomed in – a process that usually takes weeks.

Closing down the site and subsequently getting it back into play was a process repeated 16 times during the project. Each time it was accomplished so successfully that no customer complaint was ever lodged despite the unforgiving gaze of the world’s press and TV cameras. Indeed, the race course won the Jockey Club’s Best Customer Experience Award and the Racegoers Club’s Best Racecourse of the Year Award during the construction period.

A champion of early integration and collaboration, Paul encouraged innovative ideas from the supply chain. It resulted in the fitting of the balustrades to the precast balcony units at ground level in the factory rather than 80 feet in the air. It maintained programme and reduced the cost of safety equipment as the finished design provided edge protection for the facade works.

To improve buildability and the finish quality of the five-and-a-half-storey grandstand, he changed the internal floor from precast to metal deck composite, which removed the need for bracing. And using a wholly precast deck for the crescent walkway gave the exposed soffit a high-quality finish.