Considerate construction takes centre stage at Geoffrey Osborne’s New Theatre and Recital Hall for the Royal Academy of Music

Geoffrey Osborne Ltd’s exciting project at the Royal Academy of Music in Marylebone, London has received exceptional and excellent scores by the Scheme Monitor.

The project involves the full refurbishment of the Sir Jack Lyons Theatre which includes a new and larger stage area, an extended fly-tower, a stage-left, wrap around balcony seating, improved lighting, sound and general vision.

The new theatre roof development consists of a new Theatre Recital Hall and a glazed entrance lobby. Work also involves the refurbishment of the basement, lower ground floor and three additional floors of practice rooms within the main building.

The project team are also installing a new passenger lift to provide disabled access from basement to roof level and new rooftop plant areas – all while the Academy is fully functioning. The project was expected to take 124 weeks and was due for completion by Christmas 2017.

Explaining the project, Senior Project Manager Lawrence Wilson said:

“As well as the restrictions imposed by Westminster City Council and Crown Estates, works are carried out whilst the Academy is still operating which has presented a number of challenges for the Site Team, such as noise constraints.

“These problems have been overcome by ensuring good communications are maintained with the management team at the Academy. The Site Team attend weekly meetings with the team to discuss current works, progress and any issues that have arisen, or may arise.

“There are periods of time where no noisy works can be completed due to concerts, auditions or exams in the Academy. The client has issued the team with a programme for noise constraints which is incorporated into the project programme to ensure these periods of time can be utilised.

“Obtaining a licence to work from the Crown Estate and Westminster City Council presented a number of challenges, and in order to do so, a number of restrictions had to be accommodated.”

These included:

  • No site access via York Terrace East which runs along the back of the Academy.
  • MacFarren Place, running down the east side of the Academy and providing the main access to site, is closed each morning at 8am to accommodate deliveries safely, and re-opened by 5pm each day.
  • Access to residential car parks in MacFarren Place must be kept clear at all times.
  • Noise restrictions from both Crown Estates and Westminster Council, particularly when demolition works were being completed. Each day, demolition works were restricted to a two-hour period. This had to be incorporated into the programme and the time utilised efficiently.

The works involved the following key activities:

  • Strengthening the foundations in the basement
  • Undertaking extensive demolition within the auditorium and adjacent areas
  • Removing the existing roof and supporting structure
  • Installing 200 tonnes of new load-bearing steelwork
  • Installing new services – mechanical, electrical and plumbing
  • Installing new stage engineering services
  • Installing a new copper-clad roof and additional cladding
  • Installing bespoke timber joinery finishes

Lawrence outlines the ways he believes the Scheme is improving the image of construction:

  • Giving people in the community an opportunity to comment or provide feedback on the project and the workforce. We provide suggestion boxes and regularly meet with the RAM management team, so we regularly receive feedback for the site. All of the feedback that we have received from the public has been positive which really highlights how the Scheme helps.
  • Giving us the opportunity to show the people in the community the work we are doing by providing monthly newsletters. This is particularly important for this project as progress cannot be seen from the surrounding streets. We also participated in the Open Doors week, where the site was opened to showcase the project to the public.
  • Changing the culture of the workforce on site. We have found the operatives to be respectful and understand their responsibilities to the Scheme and how they communicate with the public. The site team are continually assisting the public, including helping people with queries such as parking, assisting people with directions and notifying people of any lost property.
  • Helping motivate and encourage the project team to focus on the values of the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

Here are just a few other examples of best practice the team incorporated into its working practices, in compliance with the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice:

  • Signage was exceptional and meets the needs of the Crown Estate while maintaining visible corporate signage.
  • The hoarding was painted to reflect the building colours of the surrounding area.
  • Smoking was restricted to an open, sheltered area away from the Academy.
  • A regular look-ahead is provided to the Academy and the Crown Estates.
  • A monthly newsletter detailing progress information is published for the Academy and made readily available to the local community.
  • Work methods are considered to minimise disruption to the Academy’s activities.
  • A suggestion box is provided for the public to make comments.
  • A separate 24/7 telephone number is publicly displayed.
  • Excellent support has been provided to the local day centre for the homeless with over £3000 donated to date.  
  • The site displays excellent environmental information and this is well promoted to the workforce and the public.
  • A Site Waste Management Plan is in place and both water and energy use is recorded.
  • The site is working with a community timber recycling scheme and the TM has been trained in FSC recording. 
  • The site’s nearest A&E location and fire evacuation plan, together with identities of first aiders and fire marshals are displayed.
  • Site traffic is controlled by a trained banksman.
  • Improvement opportunities are promoted and reviewed by the site management team.
  • A traffic management plan is in place and incorporates Transport for London’s collision map. Emergency evacuation procedures and fire point locations were mentioned at induction.
  • Subcontractor representatives accompany site management staff on weekly inspection tours to improve awareness and interaction.
  • All operatives have CSCS skill cards and apprenticeships are supported and encouraged on site. Full checks are made on the validity of CSCS cards.
  • Operatives are asked about medical conditions and any prescribed medication.
  • A new trainee site manager has recently been employed.
  • Operative’s special needs are assessed on an individual basis and accommodated where possible.
  • Cultural needs are met by arrangement with the Academy. 

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