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Jason Curtis MCIOB
Project leader
Laing O’Rourke

Project: Southside Student Halls, London SW7: construction of nine-storey block of 429 flats and health centre, completed in 86 weeks
Value: £35.1m
Contract: NEC

Having won the contract by convincing the client that he could meet the testing programme, Jason Curtis then had to deliver what no other bidder considered possible.

Not only did he have to hand over a nine-storey new-build before an immovable deadline set by the client’s September student intake, he had to do so on a site in a residential area. The client was emphatic that the project should cause minimal disturbance to its neighbours and stipulated strict adherence to working hours, so Curtis could not rely on the usual acceleration measures to meet the timetable.

Offsite manufacturing was the key: Curtis used precast and insitu concrete, which underpinned fast construction with high quality. Precast twin-wall systems allowed the team to omit internal plastering and paint the fair-face walls direct. The same technique was used for the floors, with an insitu topping on precast planks giving a finish to the bedroom soffits that only required coat of paint.

To reduce time on site and dispense with scaffolding, he had the traditional French limestone for the northern facade set in concrete panels offsite and lifted into position. For the south elevation he installed large panellised sections of brickwork.

Prefab bathroom pods and staircases with integral balustrades (to allow immediate, safe usage after installation) further contributed to the huge quantity of factory-engineered elements in this project. Curtis regularly visited the manufacturers to ensure quality was achieved before installation.

He also made use of mobile IT in an innovative snagging system. The management team was equipped with hand-held devices to record and close out defects as they toured the site. The information was relayed back to a central database, where it could be logged.

The client was so impressed it awarded Laing O’Rouke a £47m contract for another student block.


Tony Grindrod MCIOB
Project manager
BAM Construction

Project: Alan Turing Buildings, Manchester University: construction of three linked buildings, completed in 83 weeks
Value: £31.1m
Contract: JCT 98

A lesser man would have put his head in his hands and wept. But not Tony Grindrod. Having steered the project safely through its early months, it was struck by a bolt from the blue when his sustainability-conscious client decided it wanted the scheme to incorporate 1,100 photovoltaic solar panels.

It meant redesigning the exposed steel frame to accommodate them rather than hosting the solar shading (which was still required) and a complete rethink of the build strategy.

Fortunately for the project, change management is one of Grindrod’s strengths. He never lost his focus on the critical end date and he dragged the project back on schedule through detailed planning and sequencing, as well as energising the designers and suppliers.

Through every stage of this project, Grindrod demonstrated a proactive and team-based approach. He introduced the idea that every member of the team was the customer of the others and insisted on non-stop communication across the team.

He kept the client constantly informed of build progress, winning BAM a Considerate Constructors Scheme silver award in the process. Aware that sustainability was a key client goal, he drove suppliers and designers to consider greater use of sustainable solutions and materials. This included reducing the comfort cooling required by focusing design time on the solar shading performance of the glazing and incorporating heat recuperation in the M&E services.

The result is a first-class building with a striking exterior and high-quality internal finishes, which was completed on time and within budget.


Stephen Bannon (Taylor Woodrow) for Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 Passenger Transfers Building
Phillip Clarke MCIOB (Bovis Lend Lease) for One Wood Street, London EC2
Adam Conyers MCIOB (Bovis Lend Lease) for Bow Bells House, London EC4
Mike Morley (Sir Robert McAlpine) for City Campus East, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne
Jim Power (BAM Construction South East) for Essex Cardiothoracic Centre, Basildon
Russell Stewart (Bovis Lend Lease) for 3 Hardman Square, Manchester
Frank Walsh (Urban Splash Build) for Fort Dunlop, Birmingham