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Higher Education
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Willmott Dixon

Lee Mullett

On a technically intricate and challenging project, Lee delivered a complex design to an exceedingly tight timescale. His execution of the scheme’s key design element was hugely impressive, as he led and motivated the team in successfully fabricating and installing 730 glazed panels, each one a different size, shape or pattern from all the others. He combined a well-thought-out digital strategy with extensive construction know-how and collaborative zeal to deliver programme and quality excellence.

About the Project

Teaching and Learning Building, Birmingham

Client: University of Birmingham

Contract: JCT D&B 2011

Value: £25m

‘The diamond within’ is the architectural concept of this campus building, with its visual suggestion of a giant gemstone emerging from the heart of a massive sandstone block. But the diamond within the team that built it was the vastly experienced Lee Mullett, who ensured no disastrous missteps on what was a highly complex project.

He involved the supply chain far more actively than is usual in constructing the ‘Crystal’ – the hexagonal glazed steel frame that the building’s sandstone-clad concrete frame wraps around and which houses two lecture theatres (one with 500 seats, the other with 250). Given the difficulties of cladding the frame, which flares out at the top and narrows in at the bottom, with 730 individual glazed panels, Lee’s ability to adequately prepare and properly motivate the installation and scaffolding teams in particular was crucial.

Lee used the 3D building information model not only to help site workers visualise the internal spaces in a unique construction, but also to measure and order the 1,500sqm of bespoke glazing required within a 5mm tolerance. As the steel frame was built, he had cloud point measurements taken at each stage, overlaying them back into the BIM to ensure correct positioning and adjusting where needed.

The installation scaffolding had to remain in place until near the end of the project as the glazed panels (each one a different size, shape or pattern from all the others, and tagged with its own reference number) were carefully inserted into the steel frame like a jigsaw of epic proportions. Lee’s meticulous sequencing of internal works avoided programme delays, and managed the delicate task of temporarily waterproofing the build, which could not be sealed from the weather until well past the halfway point of the project.