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Steelwork progresses on UK’s largest higher education project

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Work is progressing on schedule on the University of Manchester’s £287M Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD), which is said to be one of the single, largest construction projects undertaken by any UK higher education institution.

Once complete, the development will provide over 75,000m² of modern facilities in a bespoke environment, to support research, teaching and learning in the 21st Century for more than 8,000 students and staff.

MECD will see the relocation of the University’s schools of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Material Science, and Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering.

Working on behalf of main contractor Balfour Beatty, Severfield is fabricating, supplying and erecting 4,100t of structural steelwork for the project.

Severfield’s work consists of the erection of three steel-framed buildings and one hybrid structure. The latter is the largest building on the site and known as the MEC Hall. Approximately 1,750t of steel has been used to form the large open spaces that accommodate atriums and lecture theatres within this seven-storey building.

“There is an old Victorian sewer that runs through the MEC Hall site, therefore to minimise the number of supports and foundations required in that area, large truss steelwork was incorporated into the steel frame,” said Severfield Project Manager Dominic Charlton.

“The weight of the truss components exceeded the capacity of the tower cranes, therefore we had to erect them using large mobile cranes up to 400t capacity. This was challenging due to the confined site and close proximity of the other buildings.”

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