Building’s article on the complex alterations being carried out at Queen’s College in Oxford (6 February, page 40) makes for some interesting reading but unfortunately is inaccurate in parts
Rather than “not thinking about how we were practically going to do the job”, both Berman Guedes Stretton and Price & Myers spent considerable time doing just that, both before the contractor was appointed and during the lead-in period. There were in fact extensive site investigations and opening up works including a number of trial pits. The only part of the building we didn’t have access to in advance was below the kitchen, which was in operation until the contractor came on site.
It was no “stroke of luck” that led to the enlargement of the gate onto Queen’s Lane: the architects conducted extensive negotiations with English Heritage and the city council to obtain listed building consent.
The implication that anything was left to chance in respect of the complicated temporary works is completely unfounded. The design of the temporary works to support the existing building while the basement is extended beneath has been carefully thought through at all stages by the designers with a scheme for the highly sensitive north wall being fully drawn up and described in the tender information. No “hope” was needed at any time; to provide the necessary reassurance the building is monitored using geospatial surveying.
The bursar of the college, Dr Linda Irving-Bell has commented that had the college been involved in the preparation of the article, it would have confirmed the college’s complete satisfaction with the design team and the scheme that has been prepared and would also have praised the team for the support and supervision given to the contractor at every stage of the works.
Jonathan Darnell, Price & Myers; Alan Berman, Berman Guedes Stretton