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Anthony Cooper MCIOB

Interserve Construction

Anthony Cooper’s problem-solving expertise delivered the vaulting ambition of this project’s four-storey new-build atrium, with its massive curved glass roof. Through resolve, commitment and the ability to tap a deep river of experience, he recovered from the roofing specialist’s mid-contract collapse into administration. User-friendly, client-focused and collaborative, he brought the entire project team into a partnering mindset. The client is delighted by the outcome – the meticulous and design-sympathetic value engineering just as much as the stunning quality.

About the Project

Engineering Heartspace, Sheffield

Client: University of Sheffield

Contract: JCT D&B 2011

Value: £31m

Without Anthony Cooper’s resolve, experience and commitment, the vaulting ambition of this four-storey new-build atrium, with its curved glass roof entirely supported by triangular-section steel columns, could have crushed the project.

Early on, the red light started flashing when the roofing specialist realised it would not be able to use the tower crane to hold the roof’s steel members in place while the installation team worked off scaffold. A structural deck would be needed instead to hold up the entire roof until the steel members could be welded together and 900 glass panes installed. Anthony ransacked his expertise and performed feats of mental agility to quickly develop an innovative and complex temporary works system that sucked in 800 tonnes of scaffolding on a constrained site without storage or laydown areas.

Eight weeks into the installation, the roofing contractor collapsed into administration. For 10 weeks, no works were carried out on the glass roof, which lay on the project’s critical path. That put huge pressure on the atrium fit-out, which could proceed only once those 800 tonnes of scaffolding had gone. Anthony had the country scoured to secure the steel and glass, and reprogrammed and resequenced to pull the programme back.

Naturally, the roof was by no means his sole challenge on a project that was primarily about refurbishing and remodelling two existing buildings – one of them grade II listed. Unknowns that emerged included additional asbestos under the slabs, and a vast expanse of dry rot within the listed building, affecting windows, structural floor joists, and highly ornate skirting boards and ceiling mouldings. Rectifying the rot involved more of Anthony’s expert resequencing, as the work affected the M&E replacement, which was on the critical path.

A born problem solver, Anthony’s user-friendly, client-focused and non-confrontational management persuaded the entire project team to buy into a partnering process. The client is delighted by the outcome – the meticulous and design-sympathetic value engineering just as much as the stunning quality.