Meet the finalists

Primary education
All Finalists2019 Winners

Laura Allison MCIOB

Morgan Sindall Construction

Despite challenging ground conditions and an intricate curved design for a school amalgamation tandem-build project, Laura Allison delivered on time and snag-free. Her exceptional attention to detail in setting out, collaborative planning sessions and daily briefings for the trades drove quality. She protected the budget and improved the aesthetic of the area by using excavated soil to create a wildflower meadow on an adjacent strip of derelict land. The client was impressed as well as delighted.

About the Project

Hilltop Primary School, Airdrie

Client: North Lanarkshire Council

Contract: NEC 3 D&B

Value: £17m

Some schools are put together as a series of regular boxes, not so very different from a child’s building blocks. Others take a very different design approach. Laura Allison’s project to replace two outdated schools with a curved two-storey structure terminating in a drum-shaped gym-cum-hall clearly belongs to the second category. Why does that matter? Because the greater technical complexity forced her to ransack her skillset, continually innovating and driving the project to deliver success.

To ensure that all interfaces aligned and quality could be controlled, Laura engaged early with the supply chain to perfect buildability and detailing in such key areas as brickwork, roof, walls and ceilings. She paid exceptional attention to detail in setting out, ran collaborative planning sessions with the trades and delivered daily briefings on site.

Naturally, some elements took longer than anticipated to get right first time. Laura, though, had built in four weeks of programme float by completing the external works first and using the area for the site accommodation so it did not have to be relocated as the project progressed.

Discovering an uncharted mineshaft within the building footprint during the foundation works, she had the entire area grouted, resequenced the foundations and repositioned the build. Laura’s introduction of retaining structures around the sports pitch reduced the need to excavate material, while the soil that was excavated was exported to an adjacent strip of derelict land to create a wildflower meadow that significantly improved the aesthetic of the area – and saved the project £250k.

To all this she brought the valuable experience of a similar project that built a merged facility while one of the predecessor schools remained live. One of the older schools on this scheme remaining operational throughout, just 20m from the construction site, and Laura’s deft disruption minimisation included programming the early soil retention works during a school holiday to make use of its playground for sheet piling.

Despite the challenging ground conditions and intricate design, Laura delivered the project on time and snag-free. The client was impressed as well as delighted.