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First to the finish line

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Getting off the start line quickly is often key to success in racing; getting to the finish line quickly is the other key. Selecting steel for the new grandstand at the home of National Hunt Racing at Cheltenham ensured both a quick start and on time finish, as you can read in this issue.

Steel was a safe bet for the Cheltenham construction team partly because of its long span capabilities, which can be taken advantage of with maximum speed of construction and minimum disruption to the racing calendar, particularly the all important Gold Cup event being held this month. Steel construction’s inherent flexibility also means that work can be halted while the Gold Cup race is run, and the next phase then gets seamlessly under way. Future extensions and reconfigurations are easily made as well.

Flexibility and long span capabilities are some of the most appreciated attributes of steel construction, which we can see elsewhere in this issue. The new InterContinental London hotel in Greenwich for example – designed to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard – incorporates spans of some 42 metres to create a 3,200m² column free space for what is thought to be the largest pillar free ballroom in Europe.

The flexibility delivered by the steel solution means the ballroom can be subdivided into 14 individual spaces as small as 200m2, enhancing the marketing potential of a space that can seat up to 2,500 for lunches or dinners, or 3,000 people standing. As well as all this flexibility, steel delivered the only economical solution to the challenge of creating such a large column free space.

Long spans and flexibility come together again in the new Sports Direct distribution centre in Nottinghamshire, a 300m X 150m structure using portal frames with spans of up to 34.5m. A variety of spans are incorporated in the design to cater for the constraints of the busy site as well as the client’s fit out requirements. As is common with projects in the logistics market, this was a fast track project that could only be met by taking advantage of the speed made possible by steel construction.

As well as enjoying some of London’s finest views towards the Houses of Parliament, students at the new student accommodation under construction along with a new private college on Westminster Bridge Road will enjoy the benefits delivered by steel’s flexibility and long span capabilities.

Steel was essential to cope with the design’s long spans, especially in the central atrium area. The client also values the built in flexibility that means classrooms can be configured in line with changing needs. Working in such a congested inner city area is all the more easier thanks to offsite fabrication and just-in-time delivery.

Congratulations if you are lucky enough to back this month’s Gold Cup winner; the more certain bet for the projects highlighted in NSC this month though was to choose steel.

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