Meet the Finalists

2022 | Higher Education

Kevin O’Brien MCIOB
Galliford Try

3 Centenary Square Draft, Birmingham: restoration, refurbishment and extension of grade II-listed building, completed in 88 weeks. 

Client: University of Birmingham 

Contract: JCT 2011, design and build 

Value: £28.5m 

About the Project

3 Centenary Square Draft, Birmingham

Turning this grade II-listed structure – derelict, vandalised and with rain coming through the roof – into a co-working and exhibition space set Kevin O’Brien a complex challenge.  

Appropriately enough, given the building was once a bank headquarters, the client wanted Kevin to find £2.5m in savings before works began. The highlight of his success here was the retention rather than removal of the timber trusses that held up the plaster-cast coffer ceilings in the former banking hall. He also undertook £2.3m of additional client works while maintaining the original programme. 

Kevin created a new sub-basement extension in a highly constrained area by using a mini rig to build a contiguous piled wall. His initiative negated the need for expensive temporary works. 

His astute use of BIM allowed rapid resolution of fit issues in what was effectively a concrete-encased steelwork frame with hollow pot floors. It also helped maximise the usable space, raising the building’s occupancy levels.  

He cleverly found a way to comply with fire regulations while preserving the heritage asset of the safety deposit box room in the basement vaults. He replaced the usual sprinkler and smoke extract systems with a misting system hidden in the room’s existing cornices, and reversible fans and dampers in the air ducting. And he maintained the majesty of the non-fire-rated original timber revolving door by using intelligent signage to indicate a different fire exit. 

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