The Challenge:

The campus is situated in central York, with mid-density housing directly behind the site. Construction activity occurred right up to the site boundary, so the team invested a great deal of time in community liaison and engagement to inform neighbours of progress against programme, with a memorial garden also being constructed. The Considerate Constructors scheme commended this approach, presenting our Project Manager with a Certificate of Excellence.

The pandemic presented a huge challenge for the team in terms of maintaining progress whilst keeping everybody safe. Our team maintained all site activities, without a single day lost due to Covid-19.

A secondary impact was the extreme shortage of key materials. For example, the plant originally lined-up to provide concrete planks was forced to shut due to Covid-19, as was our back-up provider. This led to our team seeking alternative materials sourcing to prevent delays and placing key orders extremely early to safeguard against forecasted shortages.

The Solution:

The BREEAM Excellent development has a glulam timber frame and is clad in various timber finishes, delivering the University’s vision for a highly sustainable, low-energy building that provides a new focal point for the campus. Through innovative design, attention to detail, and a truly collaborative approach, the team has delivered a visually stunning new learning and working environment, with modular, futureproof spaces that allow reconfiguration if requirements change.

The challenge lay in managing all operations safely, whilst ensuring the highest standard of finish and achieving the project’s eco-credentials. Many of these operations are more commonly ‘large site’ activities, for example, the installation of SIPS panels, which required a roof-mounted spider crane to enable safe access. Another example was the lifting of the 9.5 tonnes, 12.5m long concrete planks, an incredibly complex operation on a tight, constrained site. All works were delivered with a ‘clean bill of health’ from start to finish, a substantial achievement on a logistically challenging site with concurrent major construction operations.

The Impact:

The Creative Centre is sustainable both in operational energy usage and embodied carbon. The design team applied a ‘fabric first’ approach using Passivhaus principles and focused on detailing and craftsmanship to achieve BREEAM Excellent criteria, minimising environmental impact through passive design, active systems and renewable measures, including triple glazing specified throughout atrium façade design maximises passive solar gains while minimising sunlight penetration, exposed concrete soffits passively absorb and release heat, roof-level photovoltaic panels generate energy, all timber FSC-certified, and all materials responsibly sourced to ‘Green Guide to Specification’ rating A or A+ and all waste timber recycled/reused through Community Wood Recycling; all plasterboard recycled and rainwater harvested for damping-down in material cutting areas.

For the performance space and auditorium, the team coordinated a solution that effectively enabled double the amount of equipment to be installed into the space, catering to the wide range of courses being offered. This was achieved through collaborative design coordination meetings, bringing together M&E, theatre specialist, stage engineer, and cladding designer.

" This project has transformed the heart of our Campus, with its striking design as well as its surrounding green areas. It’s a pleasure to see people enjoying the space and being inspired by it. I would like to thank Kier for partnering with us on this building that will mean so much to our students and the wider community for years to come. "
Nick Coakley Director of Estates York St John University

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