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January 2012 – Building for future prosperity

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The start of a new year is a traditional time for a magazine to look forward, but there will be no market forecasts made in NSC’s pages against such an uncertain macro economic background. The western world’s best financial and political brains have failed to reach agreement on solutions to our economic travails, so none will be suggested here.

Away from the gloom and doom however there is an economy still functioning, employing most of the people that it used to and producing a wide range of goods and services. Steel construction is playing a vital role in helping keep things at least ticking over until better times come around, as well as building the infrastructure that will be vital for future prosperity.

Workloads are down almost everywhere, but signs of life are all around, if we only look for the half full glass – there is plenty of evidence in this issue of NSC. Past success is congratulated with our article on Glasgow’s Riverside Museum, an iconic Zaha Hadid designed home for the City’s impressive transport history collection. This has proven to be an instant hit with its target audience, with a million visitors in its first few months of opening. This is a complex structure whose construction was made possible by using steel.

This year will be marked as the year of the London Olympics, but already the sports world is planning for the future beyond 2012 as can be seen in our article on the National Football Centre under construction at Burton Upon Trent, where sporting stars of tomorrow and the coaches who train them will have a world class facility. The 80 metre wide spans needed for the indoor football pitch and other sports halls were made possible thanks to steel, also selected as the best choice framing material for a range of other structures provided on the site.

Steel’s speedy construction virtues come into their own with a project that has to be completed on time to allow another major scheme to get under way at Paddington Station, where works to allow for construction of the new Crossrail station are on the critical path. Steel will feature significantly on other parts of the Crossrail project and we look forward to bringing readers more news of that during the year.

The national schools building programme ground to a halt last year, but schools are likely again to feature in industry workloads as essential and unavoidable education investment picks up again. Our article describes three schools in Oldham where steel is overcoming challenges unique to each site.

Already voted the Best Canalside Regeneration Project in the country, the Waterfront South residential development in Walsall shows steel being deployed in ways that show off its sustainability credentials as well as an ability to deliver cost effectively and on time.

There isn’t anything like enough work out there to provide the construction industry with a healthily sustainable level of business, but there is clearly work going on and steel is showing itself to its best advantage on the widest range of projects.  Steel will continue to do so in 2012; that’s the only prediction that can comfortably be made.

Nick Barrett

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