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John Phillips
Construction manager/ director
BAM Construction

Project: St Stephen’s, Hull: construction of 600,000ft2 shopping centre, 124-bedroom hotel and music school, completed in 98 weeks
Value: £96.9m
Contract: JCT 98

This project, part of a scheme to create a new gateway to Hull, has almost certainly put an end to John Phillips’ career as an onsite construction manager. Not because of any failure, but because of sheer non-stop achievement. Phillips was promoted to construction director during the course of this project, which represents the pinnacle of the site-based phase of his career.

Having started life as a £75m scheme with a 90-week contract, St Stephen’s just grew and grew. Phillips rescheduled the project to absorb the huge variations of a 124-bedroom hotel and a 50,000ft2 mezzanine floor in the superstore in the mall. His management was so effective that he needed only a two-week extension of time to deliver the project without placing BAM at greater financial or contractual risk.

A promoter of collaboration, openness and a can-do culture that focuses on solutions rather than problems, Phillips harnessed the team to deliver value engineering rather than cost cutting.

He constructed a key retaining wall during the enabling works to support early diversion of high-voltage cables. He changed the majority of the original continuous flight auger piles to driven piles cast insitu to avoid the production of contaminated spoil. And he incorporated temporary steelwork in the permanent design to make it easier to build the scaffold.

As the scope of works ballooned, he expanded the retail team and formed further groups to deliver the new elements. He also persuaded the client and designers to set up teams to mirror his, which ensured integrated delivery.

Phillips always considered the mutual benefits and pitfalls of an action and consistently provided sound advice on the way forward. His non-contractual and non-confrontational approach brought solutions rather than standoff.

Despite a 33% increase in project value, he achieved practical completion within the agreed schedule. The centre opened the day after practical completion and hosted 40,000 shoppers.


Martin Potterton FCIOB
Project director
Bovis Lend Lease

Project: Grand Arcade, Cambridge: construction of 450,000ft2 shopping centre and a magistrates court, and refurbishment of 14 retained buildings, completed in 165 weeks
Value: £99m
Contract: JCT Major Works

In the heart of a city, a big project that looks solely at what happens on site can ruin long-term relations between a client, its neighbours and the public. And if there was one thing that Martin Potterton’s client wanted – along with price, programme and all-round perfection, of course – it was to avoid disruption to neighbouring businesses or Cambridge itself.

But avoiding that anti-social tag isn’t easy when you are building an anchor department store, 52 other shops in two glass-roofed arcades around a central atrium, a multi-storey car park, a magistrates court and a triple-height link to an existing shopping mall. And all on the site of a built-up area that had to be demolished and excavated during university exams.

Potterton managed this so successfully that the project won an unheard of three consecutive Considerate Constructors Scheme gold awards with perfect 40/40 scores.

During the demolition phase he produced an acoustic map to project the impact of demolition on neighbouring properties. He then scheduled working hours around sensitive times, such as exam sittings.

He was equally successful in overcoming the construction challenges. He delivered more than £2m worth of value engineering by building the car park on a post-tensioned design, reducing slab thicknesses to meet height planning restrictions, using cantilevered piling in lieu of secant walls, and deep raft slabs rather than thin raft and piles.

Each sectional completion date was achieved or bettered, despite unexpected archaeology delaying the car park by six months and the department store groundworks by four months. Potterton still handed over the car park on a mutually acceptable date, while the anchor store was completed and trading a week early.


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