Designed and delivered within a highly constrained site, this technically complex project saw the construction of a brand new, state of the art medical teaching and open access student facility. The project showcases the best of construction collaboration in the face of substantial challenges and drew extensively on lessons learned from earlier projects.
A unique and collaborative procurement approach was taken, selecting a turnkey main contractor whose first role was to bring on board the design team. The main driver behind a turnkey procurement was the fast-track programme of just 23 months from inception to completion.
This approach meant that the project brief was developed with contributions from the whole project team, including the client, the end users, the main contractor and the supply chain. Weekly engagement workshops were scheduled so that the designs
evolved in a highly efficient manner, drawing on everyone’s experience and expertise.
The project also presented a number of planning challenges including an adjacent conservation area, a desire to develop a building that exceeded heights established in an earlier outline planning consent and significant flood risks. To overcome these challenges, the planning department effectively became extended members of the design team through fortnightly design development workshops. This helped ensure alignment between diverging aims and aspirations and ensured that the proposals addressed all the key planning challenges in an integrated way. This collaborative working arrangement with the local authority has subsequently been used as a template for future Newcastle University projects.
From a standing start, the project was fully designed, and planning approval secured to enable a start on site within 8 months, a truly phenomenal team achievement. In a final twist, the main turnkey contractor sadly went into administration part way through the construction period. This presented a whole range of additional project challenges that required a proactive and collaborative approach from the team to overcome. Robertson Construction were selected as the successful completion contractor following a brief tender exercise. Of primary concern was the existing supply chain who were extremely exposed following the collapse of the original main contractor. It is a testament to the team’s collaborative approach following these unfortunate events, that over 90% of the original supply chain were retained to complete the project, whilst also minimising the impact on staff and labour by offering positions of employment.
This new facility was much needed to support the continued growth and success of the Faculty of Medical Sciences undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes, and in particular the Schools of Sport, Exercise and Nutritional Sciences (SENS) and the School of Psychology and the School of Medical Education. The truly collaborative and innovative methods used to deliver this project from the very beginning have delivered an exceptional facility that exceeds the client’s expectations and has delivered real, long term value for the university, it’s student
and the local economy.