Meet the finalists

SCHOOLS ABOVE £20 M
All Finalists2020 Winners

Roderick Graham MCIOB

Kier Construction

Leveraging his civil engineering background, Roderick Graham value-engineered the cut and fill exercise for this four-schemes-in one project to generate the savings that allowed it to progress. He achieved affordability with quality while managing multiple stakeholders professionally and effectively. The pool hall was the construction key, and he made the crucial decision to ditch the original plan for a reinforced concrete pool in favour of a prefabricated steel-panel product. His initiative derisked the programme and the potential maintenance issues.

About the Project

Ponteland Schools and Leisure, Newcastle

Construction of 420-place primary school, 1,600-place secondary school, leisure centre and fire station, completed in 104 weeks.

Client: Northumberland County Council

Contract: JCT 2016, design and build

Value: £46m

When the client parted ways with its first contractor on this project over budget concerns, Roderick Graham seized with both hands the opportunity of a major job. It would, after all, not only have a sizeable impact on his local area but also replace the school his daughter attended. Leveraging his civil engineering background, he value-engineered the cut and fill exercise for this four-schemes-in one project (primary school, secondary school and leisure centre in one building, and a separate fire station). The move generated £750,000 of savings for the client and won the retendered contract.

The key to the whole project was the leisure centre’s pride and joy, a 25-metre six-lane swimming pool, along with a trainer pool. Not only did the construction of the pool hall impose hefty risks in the form of programme stress, but also in potential maintenance issues. Roderick made the crucial decision to ditch the original plan for a reinforced concrete pool in favour of a prefabricated steel-panel solution built within a watertight outer tank that formed the pool hall substructure.

While this innovative solution introduced great efficiency and construction certainty to the installation, Roderick had to reconfigure the programme to accommodate the construction sequence required for its installation. Even more importantly, he was able to get buy-in from the groundworks and MEP subcontractors to the new approach.

With the steel panels susceptible to impact damage, the pool hall construction had to be well advanced by the time the actual pools were installed. Roderick derisked the programme by squeezing a five-week backfill operation for the mechanical installations beneath the pool deck to seven days by using conveyors to place the backfill material – heavy plant could not be brought into the pool hall as the works were too advanced.

Roderick’s pool solution drove the four-scheme project to an impressive conclusion. He achieved affordability with quality while managing multiple stakeholders professionally and effectively. And his admirable community engagement campaign included regularly updating the digital information board at the site entrance with current information and photos for passers-by to see exactly what stage the project was at.