Gold badge

Gold winner

Employer: Watkins - Jones

Project: Exchange, Cardiff

A career largely spent managing high-rise residential construction doesn’t necessarily mean the next tower challenge will be a piece of cake. Richard Ingram may have had 12 years under his belt of topping out over seven storeys, but this 27-floor scheme was by far the biggest thing he had ever built.

It wasn’t just the 90m height or the complexity of the landlocked-site logistics, the retained facade, three clients and the 477 beds that took him out of his comfort zone, but also managing a large project team – 140-strong at its peak.

Richard proved more than equal to the upsizing challenge. He realised that the original concrete frame contractor’s traditional build strategy of pouring a slab, sitting the vertical elements on top, then pouring the next slab, was fine for a lengthy programme on a low-height building with an envelope infill system but not for his scheme’s tall building with unitised facade. He appointed a new contractor able to build jumpform, with its fast core and slab construction.

He visited Zagreb to check out a Croatian curtainwall contractor’s previous schemes. Impressed with what he saw, he appointed the specialist, and had the offsite-built cladding (with insulation prefitted) installed from inside the building using a spider crane as soon as the panels arrived on site, getting internal fitout away to the fastest of starts. With the ambitious programme for the student residence fuelled by the need to achieve practical completion in time for the new academic year, it was clearly the right move, capturing an estimated five-month reduction in programme.