The University of Roehampton used NEC to procure an award-winning new library at its parkland campus in southwest London. Completed on time and within budget in September 2017, the library won the Royal Institute of British Architects’ London Region and National Awards in 2018.
The 7840m2, five-storey structure was designed by architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and delivered by contractor Osborne under an NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract Option A (priced contract with activity schedule). Gardiner and Theobald was appointed as project manager, cost manager and principal designer.
Work began on site in January 2016, starting with the installation of 278 no. 450mm diameter, 28m deep concrete piles and a 300mm thick reinforced concrete ground slab. The structural frame, floor soffits and stairs were then rapidly installed as high quality precast white concrete units. The floor slabs were completed in in-situ concrete, the external walls were finished with brick-clad precast concrete panels and internal feature walls were lined with oak batten and fabric panels.
In addition to housing over 300,000 publications, the new library provides more than 1,200 study spaces, staff support and work areas, a ground-floor café, a central atrium and specialist digitisation and collection-management facilities. Energy-saving features include thermally activated building slab cooling pipework in the exposed precast soffits, a 3.5kW photovoltaic system on the roof and an airtightness of just 1.3m3/m2 @ 50Pa.
Exemplary team working
According to Ian Thomas, the University’s programme manager for major capital projects, ‘NEC was chosen because it promotes collaboration between the parties, improves allocation of risk and responsibility, and reduces the risk of delays and cost overruns.
‘All these benefits were realised during the delivery of the new library project, resulting in an award-winning building that was delivered in an exemplary team-working environment, on budget and in time to meet the client opening date.’
He says the relationship between the employer, project manager, designers and contractor on the library project was very open. ‘There was excellent communication throughout, creating an environment of mutual respect and trust. This also ensured the works, at the heart of the main University campus, caused minimal disruption to teaching.’
Keeping programme on track
Thomas says the benefits of NEC were well illustrated in how the team worked together to overcome initial delays in the fast-track programme.
‘The internal joinery works were critical to the high quality internal environment, and the architect worked closely with the joinery contractor to agree its design detailing “just in time” to meet the manufacturing programme. However, delays were encountered in the structural frame, which put considerable pressure on the client fit-out programme to enable “readiness for occupation” ahead of the start of autumn term 2017.
‘Following an NEC early warning, the project manager and contractor agreed at a subsequent risk mitigation meeting to an early start of the fit-out works, which were successfully undertaken concurrently with completion of the building structure.’
Benefits of using NEC
- NEC obligation for employer, contractor and project manager to act in a ‘sprit of mutual trust and co-operation’ promotes collaboration and openness between the parties.
- Clear and simple drafting of NEC contracts helps to improve allocation of risk and responsibility.
- NEC communications and change-management processes, including early warnings and risk mitigation meetings, reduce the risk of delays and cost over-runs.