Meet the Finalists

2022 | Higher Education

Paul Barrowcliffe
Sir Robert McAlpine

Henry Daysh Building, Claremont, Newcastle: remodelling and refurbishment of three interconnected blocks, completed in 157 weeks. 

Client: Newcastle University 

Contract: JCT 2016, design and build 

Value: £39m

About the Project

Henry Daysh Building, Claremont, Newcastle

The completion date for this scheme was a business-critical issue for the client, as its staff were in rented offices on short-term leases while the refurbishment took place. Imagine, then, the general dismay when repeated discoveries of asbestos in the 1960s-built blocks forced Paul Barrowcliffe to bring all site operations to a halt for nine weeks while it was removed or encapsulated. 

Paul’s skilled reprogramming and leveraging of a close relationship with the asbestos subcontractor saved the crucial completion date. He brought in extra labour and drove the works to hand over in line with the client’s requirements despite a punishing time-scale. Along with the 500 change requests Paul incorporated during the project, it made meeting the original schedule a singular achievement. 

It was by no means the only challenge on a live site surrounded on most days by thousands of students and staff moving around the campus. Given that one of the blocks housed the client’s architecture faculty, understandably brimful of strong opinions about the project design, one of the trickiest issues was value-engineering the over-budget recladding.  

Paul’s diplomatic but firm leadership of the exhaustive discussions found the solution in a brick facade that respected the original design intent. His treatment of the timber slats around the core provided the client with a further substantial saving.  

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