Meet the finalists

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All Finalists2020 Winners

Andy Howarth MCIOB

Willmott Dixon

This challenging project required near-superhuman efforts from Andy Howarth to deliver. He had to bring all his skills into play to overcome the technical complexities, manage diverse tenant needs, and balance stakeholder interests. His replacement of the planned rainscreen cladding with precast concrete enhanced programme and safety. And his retaining wall solution of king-post columns rather than sheet-steel piling protected finances, timetable and aesthetics. He completed on budget and to impressive quality, and handed over 12 weeks early.

About the Project

Rochdale Riverside

Construction of shopping mall with leisure facilities and 520-space car park, completed in 111 weeks.

Client: Genr8

Contract: JCT 2016, design and build

Value: £41m

Stepping in after the client’s first contractor proved unable to meet the project’s time and budget conditions, Andy Howarth plunged into a scheme where the design couldn’t be completed before site start and had to be developed during construction.

The groundworks and services alone for this 200,000sqft scheme took up the first six months, with the ground having to be piled to support the new mall and car park. But with old pedestrian subways and concrete foundations for the demolished structures still in the ground, and only a few drawings available, all the old concrete piles had to found one by one in a dig that went four metres down. Andy had to constantly redesign the new piling layout and foundations, and adjust the sequencing, as a result.

With an 80m-long elevation of the building just two metres from a tram stop, Andy rejected the original plan for a steel frame-supported rainscreen cladding system as susceptible to damage and difficult to install. His alternative of a 3m-high precast concrete wall, finished with a reeds and dragonfly pattern to reflect the river that runs through the city, ensured off-site quality and working safety. It was installed in one week rather than the five (working at night, when the tram line was closed) the rainscreen would have needed.

Likewise, Andy rejected the steel sheet-pile solution for a 4.5m-high retaining wall alongside the new car park as it would require substantially strengthening the supported highway. He found the aesthetically right programme and budget saving alternative in a wall pinned by steel king-post columns. And he met a request to add an extra storey to the car park, which required a complete design change of the structure, without overshooting the original project programme.

Indeed, he completed 12 weeks early, meeting the Easter trading aspirations of the retail tenants. Andy had taken on the huge task of tenant liaison, coordinating their requirements throughout the project and ensuring the 24 units and 10 handovers were completed in line with contracts to avoid his client incurring penalties.