Gunning, the Chartered Building Company, has completed an extensive series of internal refurbishment work for the Estates Project Team at the University of the Arts London (UAL). Not only was the volume and scope of work substantial, but it also had to be completed within a ten-week window. Despite the challenge, it was completed under budget and ahead of schedule.

In early 2018, Pete Newman of UAL began planning the work to transform UAL’s London College of Communication (LCC) in Elephant and Castle by remodelling and refurbishing more than 40 areas of teaching spaces and offices across four parts of London College of Communication’s estate: the tower block; workshop; media block and design block.

As a contractor on UAL’s minor works framework, T Gunning tendered for the project and won, with a brief to transform the insides of the building to create more versatile teaching/office spaces, enhancing the learning experience of the students and the facilities the college can offer. “Student experience is of paramount importance to LCC,” Pete continues. “But as a world leading art and design establishment, we also need to attract the best academics, and that means creating exceptional facilities to help them deliver their courses.”

To this end, the staff at LCC had a key input into the new designs, remodelling the rooms to meet their specific requirements, taking down walls or extending areas as needed. Existing lighting and lighting controls were stripped out and replaced with LEDs, and any affected ceilings, walls and flooring made good and redecorated.

The light fittings were only removed where necessary and all replaced with LEDs, and paints, materials, flooring and carpets were all chosen or re-used to conform with ISO 14001 accreditation for sustainability. T Gunning re-used doors and partitions, and even re-used glazing to create internal windows thereby saving considerable cost. “They were very pragmatic in their approach when it came to the processing of waste materials and were able to reclaim, recycle or re-use 95% of the materials used.”

T Gunning divided the programme into two tranches, each with its own contract manager, with all works to run concurrently. To ensure the project ran smoothly, a site meeting was held every Tuesday, with a weekly progress report (complete with photographs) circulated in advance for discussion.

As well as the contract managers and the Estates Project Team, the maintenance contractor, IT cabling contractor, the FM and H&S teams etc were also involved so that the work of all of the individual parties could be effectively co-ordinated. The removal or making safe of any hazardous waste, including asbestos, was also closely monitored and controlled as per regulations.

“Having teams from T Gunning permanently on-site gave great confidence to the client and enabled them to create a genuine partnership based on mutual trust,” Pete continues. “T Gunning was very good at managing change requests and associated costs, and in finding solutions wherever possible to often difficult challenges.”

The urgency with which the work needed to be completed necessitated around the clock and weekend working, and the smooth running of the project was helped by highlighting key areas of concern at the precontract planning stage to ensure that any revisions were programmed in.

“Work of this nature can only be accommodated when the students are absent,” Pete says, “and all of the rooms had to be finished and handed over well before the students returned to allow any specialist equipment (e.g Audio Visual, laboratory equipment etc) and furniture to be installed and last-minute snagging issues dealt with. Sometimes the client would only realise late in the day that they needed to move or replace a socket, for example, so allowing for this in the planning was critical.

“T Gunning played a key role in handing over the project, where we also invited the academics as well as the relevant Union representatives so they were clear on the work we had completed to confirm their approval.”

Pete is delighted with the completed work: “The collaborative approach, and an honest, transparent relationship has resulted in a successful project we can all be proud of.”

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