Employer: VolkerFitzpatrick

Project: 41 Welbeck Street, London W1

Rakesh Chavda showed exceptional technical planning and commanded the detail on this project to build 12,000sqft of offices behind a retained Edwardian facade. He proposed building the central lift and stair core in steel rather than reinforced concrete poured in situ. His insistence that this would bring completion three months quicker proved to be well founded.

His solution for pinning the retained facade in position while the offices were constructed behind was inspired. Although an external steel support frame seemed the obvious choice, it would require extensive pavement breaking out, utility diversions and substantial new foundations. Rakesh came up with the alternative of internal flying shores. They provided lateral restraint for the facade, avoiding the support frame issues and saving £90,000 plus eight weeks on the programme.

Demolishing an infill building and marrying up the new build with irregular adjacent structures presents plenty of challenges. There were, for example, four party-wall chimneys, six storeys up above the roofline, whose retention was a requirement of planning consent. Rakesh proposed installing steel supports as a temporary and permanent solution, demolishing the chimney breasts below to increase the lettable floor space.

With a tiny footprint in a very restricted central London site that offered absolutely no site storage space, he planned the logistics meticulously. For example, he bulk-bought all the bricks and held them in a yard offsite, then called off small loads whenever they were needed without overloading the site.

He took a responsive neighbour liaison approach, changing noisy work hours to avoid clashing with business meetings held next door. As a result, despite a level of construction activity that could have been expected to trigger a dozen or so complaints from the inevitable disruption, not a single one was received.