Meet the finalists

Public and Infrastructure
All Finalists2019 Winners

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

Kevin Alden

Kevin deployed his broad construction and project management experience and skills to great effect on this remodelling of a listed building. His commitment and work ethic were outstanding, and he went well beyond the client’s expectations to provide solutions to the many issues that arose. His financial and technical expertise got the scheme out of the blocks and onto site, while his fine stakeholder management and innovation brought it across the line to widespread acclaim.

About the Project

Newcastle Civic Centre

Client: Newcastle City Council

Contract: JCT D&B 2016

Value: £21m

Design creep at this remodelling of three grade II*-listed office blocks risked trashing the project budget before Kevin Alden even got on site. His scheme review identified that costs were £2m above expectation, driven by such desirable, but expensive, introductions as heftier acoustic insulation in internal walls and ceilings.

With uncertainty rising over whether the project could proceed, Kevin identified the non-critical elements that could be reduced in spec or scope. By assigning risk responsibilities appropriately, he was able to bring the cloud of stakeholders into risk assessment and management, take back control of the budget, and move forward.

He derisked the build by persuading the conservation officer to allow the refurbishment of the interior off site, avoiding the use of caustic chemicals in the building. With significant amounts of legacy marble flooring, feature balustrades, ornate timber panelling and chandeliers in the blocks needing protection, this was a major gain. Elements such as heater panels were able to be stripped, repaired and finished in factory conditions and re-installed as part of the final fit-out.

For the key acoustic separation between judiciary and public areas required in two of the blocks being remodelled as law courts, he developed the specification and interface on the basis of proven construction methods by getting early design input from the system supplier. His construction of fully fitted out sample rooms and stringent inspection and sign-off regime also contributed to acoustic success.

And Kevin’s imagination and flexibility were key to solving the project’s biggest technical challenge. The problem was how to achieve the critical floor to ceiling height requirement with a raised access flooring system (which would cover a sizeable expanse of 5,000sqm) that turned out to require a levelled floor slab. After completion of the internal demolition works, it had become clear that the existing slabs had many surface irregularities. Putting a levelling screed on top would raise the ceiling level, squeezing the space above needed for M&E services. As the M&E design was almost complete at that point, Kevin knew he had to find a solution that did not eat into the soffit service space.

Breaking out and grinding down the slabs would have been disruptive and risked the integrity of the structure. Kevin squared the circle by coming up with a raised access system with adjustable pedestals to achieve the required level, avoiding the removal of large areas of screed. Although it reduced the underfloor space, the fewer support points required left enough room to run services through it.

Precis

Kevin Alden deployed his broad construction and project management experience and skills to great effect on this remodelling of a listed building. His commitment and work ethic were outstanding, and he went well beyond the client’s expectations to provide solutions to the many issues that arose. His financial and technical expertise got the scheme out of the blocks and onto site, while his fine stakeholder management and innovation brought it across the line to widespread acclaim.