The revealing event on Peter Adams’ outstanding management of this expanded replacement came when the head teacher asked him to roof over the open central quadrangle to turn it into an all-weather play area. With the frame design officially frozen, the detailing under way, and the concrete structure already up to the first floor, Peter would have had every right to politely refuse the build-impacting mid-scheme variation and get on with the job of achieving the programme, the quality and the budget.
In fact, he agreed. He redesigned the existing roof upstand to suit the new curved roof and beefed up the atrium walls to take the hefty extra load. The significance of the moment lies in its exposing the project leader’s commitment to delivering maximum user satisfaction.
His incorporation of a 17m-long dividing screen in the school hall was in the same vein. A late design variation with structural implications, Peter took it on, switching from a horizontal folded partition to a vertical drop concertina system to make it work structurally.
He dealt admirably with the project’s unpleasant surprises and unwelcome setbacks. He was, for example, forced to stop piling by the water utility because the main sewer (supposedly running under the site according to the wholly erroneous service drawings) still hadn’t been located. Peter brought in a drainage specialist he’d previously worked with and suggested a different approach. Going over to a neighbouring house, they put a camera down the manhole there and found the sewer nine metres below the main school road.
And when the M&E bill came out £1m above what the estimator had priced (located below the Heathrow flightpath, the build required robust ventilation and cooling as well as industrial-grade acoustic insulation), he clawed £500k back by value engineering. His budget-easing moves included reducing the number of boilers and roof-mounted air-handling units while increasing their capacity, and omitting the underfloor heating.
With handover achieved four weeks early, budget intact and quality excellent, an extremely happy client awarded the contractor two other projects on the back of this one.