Geoffrey Osborne’s New Theatre and Recital Hall for the Royal Academy of Music

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

Here are just a few other examples of best practice the team incorporated into its working practices:

  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The site is working with a community timber recycling scheme and the TM has been trained in FSC recording. 
  • 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.
  • 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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