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Higher Education
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Richie Carter MCIOB

Beard Construction

Richie Carter maintained an exceptionally clear client focus throughout the build of this student centre and accommodation block in the heart of a Grade I-listed college. His agile resequencing maintained the programme against setbacks in the ground. And his ingenuity and proactive approach to problem-solving included erecting a steel and cross-laminated timber structure above an existing basement. His value engineering of the unique facade saved £1m while retaining all the visual impact and intent of its original shadow-box design.

About the Project

Dr Lee Shau Kee Building, Wadham College

Construction of student centre and 20-bedroom accommodation block, completed in 125 weeks.

Client: Wadham College

Contract: JCT, design and build

Value: £14m

Richie Carter’s exceptional sensitivity to client and user needs was a key element on this scheme to build a student centre and an accommodation block in the heart of an Oxford college’s Grade I-listed quads.

So when, after the frame had gone up and first fix commenced, the client decided to change from condensing to directly vented tumble dryers in the basement laundry, Richie left no stone unturned to find a workable option. With ventilation ducting impossible to weave through a building not designed to take it, he struck on the solution of moving the laundry to a location where it could be vented into a stone bench in the quad landscaping.

But with some £1m in value engineering required before that to bring the scheme within budget, Richie presented the options in a traffic light format that ranked the solutions on a sliding scale of aesthetic impact. The critical gain was an insightful facade re-engineering that retained the visual impact and intent of the original shadow-box design.

Having saved two weeks of programme by resequencing the superstructure works, Richie then lost the lot – and more – with the discovery of asbestos. Further resequencing brought an 11-week delay down to seven weeks. And Richie used the downtime to progress the archaeological investigation, closing out the risk of further delay in the ground.

He kept the college’s main kitchen – one of only two areas in the college that is live every day of the year – operational by drastically downsizing the scope of demolition required. He reduced the proposed two-week stop to a short series of four-hour shifts carried out at times when the kitchen could be closed or was between services.

Richie maintained an exceptionally clear client focus throughout the build, resulting in a no-surprises delivery. His ingenuity and proactive approach to problem-solving – such as erecting a steel and cross-laminated timber structure on top of an existing basement, constructing the unique facade, and delivering the finesse required of the internal finishes – maintained the programme, the budget and the quality.