Steel shows collaboration benefits
The London commercial market and the demand for large sheds might have peaked for the moment but the quality of design and construction using steelwork continues to grow, as this year’s crop of SSDA winners shows.
One thing that makes the SSDA unique is that the judges actually visit all of the shortlisted projects, which means that they get to meet the construction teams. One of the elements that the judges singled out for mention this year is the high level of collaboration they observed between the members of the construction teams involved, which is good to hear when collaborative working has become such a strong theme in efforts to improve construction industry performance.
Is collaboration made any easier by using steel? There is a good case to be made for saying so. One of the best tools for enhancing collaboration is Building Information Modelling, and steel construction was already BIM-ready when its use became mandatory for public sector projects. The steel sector has long been well used to working this way and collaboration is second nature to steelwork contractors.
Some of this year’s SSDA Award winning projects could hardly have been achieved at all without a high level of successful collaboration. The 224 metre high Leadenhall Building for example is a complex structure where stability is provided by a perimeter based steel mega-frame on the outside of the building. Close and creative collaborative working between architects and engineers was essential to its success.
Similarly with the innovative T-Pylon that will gradually replace older designs of lattice towers carrying Nationalgrid power supplies. The new design has been hailed as a steelwork design classic. Producing such an aesthetically pleasing, functional, cost-efficient, innovative pylon drew on the combined skills of the entire design and construction team.
Collaboration between specialists conducting lab tests to determine how historic steel could be married to new steelwork for the retained façade of a Leicester Square office building project, and designers of the new structure, led to a trouble-free on-site welding process to create what is said to be Europe’s largest retained façade.
Also in London, redevelopment of Selfridges store on Oxford Street involved collaboration with the store’s staff as it had to be kept operational while works including installation of a 50m-long, 165t steel-framed bridge structure took place.
High team spirit was commented on at Scotland’s new world-class Sports Performance Centre in Edinburgh.
Collaboration between the main contractor and steelwork contractor particularly led to realisation that some concrete piers would be better brought within the steelwork package, delivering programme and cost benefits.
Similar comments could be made about all of the diverse projects awarded Commendations or Merits.
More collaborative ways of working are surely the way ahead for the construction industry, and this year’s SSDA clearly shows that the steelwork sector is already performing.