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April 2008 – T5 sets world standard

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Congratulations to all members of the construction team that delivered BAA’s new Terminal 5 at Heathrow on time and to budget. It is a great achievement given the scale and complexity of the project, and shows the world what the UK construction industry can deliver.

As BAA Chairman Sir Nigel Rudd said at the opening by the Queen: ‘From every perspective, this is a landmark project and I am proud to think that Terminal 5 has become a model construction project, setting new, higher standards for an industry around the world.’

Watson Steel Structures has consolidated an already high reputation by its success in delivering the key steelwork package. It is testament to client BBA’s confidence in steel as a construction material that it chose to get off to the best possible start for its £4,300M investment by selecting steel.

Watson Steel Structures has played a significant role over the years in establishing the reputation of steel as a constructional material and at T5 has set a standard for the sector to follow. That reputation is enhanced almost daily by the successful delivery of projects across the steel construction sector.

T5 demonstrates many of the features of steel construction that clients value, so it is worth outlining the scale of the achievement. The T5 team has created the UK’s biggest free standing building, using some 45,000t of steel, all manufactured off-site and brought to site as needed, just as it would be on any steel project.

The long span roof on the main building – 400m by 150m – is the longest single span roof in Europe, manufactured off-site and fitted in six sections, each weighing 2,500t, that were jacked up because of height restrictions on the use of cranes. Since installation in April 2004 it has allowed construction work to take place virtually without interruption, unaffected by bad weather.

Extensive use was made of off-site trials and testing, which generated major cost and time savings. Part of the roof and façade for the main terminal building was constructed off-site in Yorkshire to ensure that all issues relating to tolerances and sequencing were tested and resolved before assembly on site. Potential problems were ironed out at an early stage and these lessons applied elsewhere.

The design minimises the number of internal columns required, giving BAA maximum flexibility in terms of future potential changes to the building. This success can only win steel construction new admirers.

Nick Barrett
Editor 

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