Robert Palmer MCIOB
Kier Regional Building London and South East
Rob Palmer’s impressive construction knowledge, collaborative intensity and analytical approach to problem solving overcame the logistics constraints of a tight courtyard site. He made this scanner block scheme financially viable by changing the facade treatment and connecting to the site’s existing services rather than installing independent generators and water chillers. He also pulled off an eye-of-a-needle success in delicately manoeuvring a seven-tonne MRI scanner through a warren of buildings and into the new build’s first floor.
About the Project
Southwood Courtyard Building, Great Ormond Street Hospital
Client: Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
Contract: NEC option C
Rob Palmer’s impressive construction knowledge, collaborative intensity and analytical approach to problem solving successfully prevented the hefty constraints from crippling this three-storey scanner block project.
The tight site was sandwiched into a small courtyard surrounded by inpatient departments on three sides and a grade I-listed church on the fourth, the main access road was a drop-off point for a fleet of ambulances ferrying patients to the hospital, and the ground was full of obstructions. Rob had to bring in all supplies through an undercroft passage just 3m wide and 3.5m high, and remove all waste (including from the demolition of an existing temporary building in the courtyard) via the same route.
But most of all it was about the new building’s key element – a seven-tonne scanner that had to be delicately craned onto a first-floor landing deck before being inched through the building (entering through a temporarily omitted section of facade, and taking a specially strengthened internal path) to its final position. Rob laser-scanned the delivery route to ensure the scanner could be manoeuvred through the cheek-by-jowl building layout.
Just as crucially, the building’s power and chilled water had to be up and running when the scanner arrived to ensure the supply of supercooling liquid helium, as an MRI magnet can be badly damaged unless it remains at a temperature of near absolute zero (-273°C). Having already brought the scheme into financial viability by omitting an independent generator and water chillers for the building, Rob put in the hard yards to correctly connect up to the existing services in neighbouring buildings, isolating and cutting into live power and water lines without the rest of the hospital being affected.