The completion of Cornell Quarter reinforces Teesside University’s commitment to provide the very best student and learning experience. Built on a former car park site on the edge of the University campus in Middlesbrough, the 8,286sqm, six-storey residence block, arranged across 48 clusters of 5-8 rooms, each with communal facilities, forms part of the university’s ambitious £300m campus masterplan.
A record-breaking pre-construction phase set the pace and tone for the overall programme. Due to student demand, the accommodation had to be open for the September 2020 academic year and the team worked with a blank sheet of paper to hit site in just 24 weeks.
This was an exceptional outcome which would simply not have been possible without the active involvement and vision of Jill Thompson, Deputy Director of Campus Services, who, as a conduit between the university and the construction team, had been given sufficient autonomy to make operational decisions swiftly, and without the need for continual reference to the board of governors and senior management.
Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Paul Croney, Chief Operating Officer Malcolm Page and Director of Campus Services, Darren Vipond, must also be recognised for not only possessing all the attributes you hope for in a client when dealing with a project of this scale and momentum, but also because they went above and beyond to ensure alignment between all parties and provided strong leadership and a clear brief from the outset.
Wates’ Bid Manager and the site team were involved heavily at this early stage to achieve the demanding target. This process included:
- the procurement of the design team and subcontractors
- submitting and achieving planning permission
- KPI setting
- logistical planning
- programme setting
- cost planning
- and ensuring our client, Teesside University, was kept informed throughout.
Following a temporary pause to site operations at the start of lockdown, six months from scheduled completion, only a mere 48 hours of stoppages resulted while new procedures were developed – the result of being trusted by the university to make the right decisions and given the utmost flexibility to implement them, as necessary.
It is important to stress the complete collaboration and mutual respect on site as well as the resounding ‘can-do’ attitude which prevailed in the face of Covid-19 – at that time, an unexplained pathogen – and therefore the response from the site teams was even more remarkable.
As well as its record-breaking 24 weeks from feasibility to site and with only a 75-week build programme, the team’s achievement of project handover on time, with zero defects and with the achievement of a BREEAM Excellent rating too, are exceptional.
We believe the above factors combine to position Teesside University a most worthy contender for the Client of the Year award in recognition of their dedication and remarkable leadership, without which, the record-breaking success of this project would not have been possible.