CMYA Finalist

Employer: mac-group

Project: River House, Belfast

Ronan McGrath’s successful delivery for the client of a £7m three-storey office block refurbishment in Bristol triggered the request for Mac-group to negotiate the tender for this contract. Also appointed project leader for the Belfast scheme, Ronan completed this 14-storey refurbishment with distinction.

The works involved stripping the 1960s building back to its frame, removing asbestos, creating a double-height space in the reception area, and installing new services, new high-speed lifts, partitions, ceilings and raised access floors. The front facade was given new curtainwalling, a rear extension was built, and the ground floor slab was extended to enlarge the retail units. Difficulties included maintaining the operations of ground-floor and adjacent retail units during the strip-out and demolition, and keeping permanent power supplied to the third party-owned communication masts on top of the building.

Among the innovative solutions that emerged under Ronan’s leadership was the repurposing of an old top-to-bottom service riser in the building so that the rubble from the demolition of existing floor screeds could be thrown into it and emerge at the ground floor, to be collected by a bobcat digger and emptied directly into the lorry for disposal off site. It not only improved on the initial solution of a debris chute that had got damaged beyond repair due to the distance the rubble was falling from, but also enabled the demolition and strip-out works to complete ahead of programme.

Six months into the contract, the client decided to take five lower storeys of the building for a subsidiary business of its own, negotiating a fully finished fit-out with Ronan under a D&B contract, separate to the main shell and core contract. While a 20-week D&B fit-out is in itself demanding, introducing it midway through a fast-paced main Cat A contract is very challenging. Ronan ably managed the many interfaces between the Cat A works and Cat B fit-out. The client was delighted once more with the results.