Monday, December 22, 2008

Ironic "construction manager of the year" award.

I love the Alan Turing Building, home of the School of Mathematics at Manchester. It is designed to maximize chance encounter and people therefore run in to each other and stand around talking about mathematics. Just as it was intended.

But like many construction project in the UK it is let down by lack of attention to detail. My PhD students have been in a room that is for most of the time too cold as cooled air is blown in. Rather ironically negating the value of the solar panels on the roof. Other rooms suffer from basic errors of control theory in their heading and ventilation.

Only now, a year and a half after we moved in, is sound insulation to be installed in the walls. Turns out they forgot to put it in at the time!

Just minor niggles you might say in an otherwise great building. However I read that Tony Grindrod has been nominated for Construction Manager of the Year for his work on the Alan Turing Building. So the state of the construction industry in the UK must be really bad. Just imagine the problems of the projects managed by less celebrated construction managers!


Anonymous Mike Peel said...

What? Construction manager of the year? Are they crazy?

In the floor above you, we have/had problems with the ceiling leaking; the air conditioning being either not turned on, too hot, or freezing (still a problem); being left in the dark because of the lights automatically turning off and sensors not working (still a problem); the supercomputer cabinets not being properly commissioned and tested (toasty computers); problems with sound insulation (ongoing, hopefully not for long); problems with heat insulation in a room that overhangs empty air (freezing and ongoing); plumbing problems (don't try flushing the toilet after someone else has just flushed it; it won't work); ...

That's leaving aside the design issues with the building.

It's still very far from a well-working building...

6:22 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Don't forgot:

fire alarm going off ever other week, power circuits failing, over crammed student rooms and the major design flaw of offices with missing walls. - that one cost quite a bit to repair!

anything else?

10:13 AM  
Blogger Billlion said...

It gets worse. See

"Notable successes included reducing the comfort cooling required by focusing design time on the solar shading performance of the glazing, incorporating heat recuperation in the M&E, and setting up a single energy centre for both the new-build and existing buildings.

The result was an undoubted success for all parties: a first-class building with a striking exterior and high-quality internal finishes, completed on time and within budget. "

Still not finished 18 months after moving in. Strikingly wasteful of enegry. Oh yes, and the drains smell.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear oh dear.... I'm glad I left! Never did like the building!

4:47 PM  
Blogger Billlion said...

I am not sure the building is good for either Astrophysics or photon science, but I must say I still love the building. It has been really great for maths. Other mathematicians visiting look at it with awe. It is worth it just for the effect on the MIMS visitors programme. Personally I have benefited so much from the visiting mathematicians.

The building is also very popular with students, even students from eg English who just come for seminars. See eg here

But the things we like about the building are the things we asked for and got, and the hard work put in by people like Nige Ray negotiating with te
he architects and estates dept to get them to understand what we need.

It is let down by details and not being finished. Exactly the job of the construction manager I imagine. Hence the irony. If there was a prize for academics working out what they need in a building and negotiating with architects Nige should get the gold medal.

Tony Grindrod should be used as an example of worst practice when training construction managers, and the Chartered Institute of Building should do a bit of homework before disgracing themselves by rewarding people for failure.

3:36 AM  
Blogger Tony Rushton said...

2008 has been the year we have all gone past the point of disbelief with our regulators, over-seers and the powers that be.

The lack of comprehensive peer-reviewed funding has been one of the central issues for astronomy and particle physics in the last year. I suspect a syndrome in 2008 has been been the decisions of the few affecting the many.

The few deciding the results of Construction Manager of the Year Awards did not consult the people that the large projects would effect (I was certainly not asked, did I think the Alan Turing Building was a success). But that was never going to be a metric of Tony Grindrod's success, he was to only ever to be accountable to those higher in the food chain.

4:12 AM  

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