Merit

BioPark University of Hertfordshire

New Laboratory and Office Building.

south

How do you ensure the structural integrity of a world class lab right on the main Kings Cross railway line?

Merit was assigned as Principal Contractor for the turnkey design and construction of this new laboratory and office building at Biopark, Welwyn Garden City.  Design of the building and remedial works to the foundation of the structure were critical design aspects of this project due to its location.

  • World class research and development centre in the heart of the UK's life sciences cluster.
  • Fast track project to meet user space requirements and constructed in only 19 weeks.
  • 3D modelling enabled pre-fabrication and modularisation of services to improve schedule, quality and H&S.

The University's requirements for this world class research and development centre were developed into a full design for planning and construction to satisfy safety, local authority, regulatory and manufacturing requirements.

The works included:

  • Architectural
  • Civil and structural works for the construction of a portal steel framed building
  • Laboratories and offices
  • Services and utilities (general and process)
  • Commissioning and validation; and
  • Full fit-out of offices and laboratories
  • Construction

The project was a portal steel framed building with concrete floors located, in this case, on top of an existing multi-storey car park. Use of insulation materials have ensured a highly energy efficient facility. Design of the building and remedial works to the foundation of the structure were critical design aspects of this project as its location was adjacent to the East Coast main line rail link.

Speed of construction was paramount to the project's success, with only a 19 week schedule allowed for the whole design and construction project, therefore the chosen design and materials was vitally important. Reaching a watertight building to enable internal fit-out to begin was critical to the overall timescale and the design solution helped to achieve this. The client had requested that the project was completed on time as they had sublet some of the labs to other users from day one of the operational phase of the building. This was a key driver to us and we ensured the site was handed over on time with all the required compliances.

Key challenges and how they were managed:

  • The main issue was the underpinning needed to strengthen the car park foundations. This was completed with minimal disruption to the car park by carrying out works over the weekend.
  • Speed of construction was of paramount importance to the client – Merit developed a 3D model for the building design which increased the speed of installation.
  • Reaching a watertight building stage to enable internal fit-out to begin was critical to the overall timescale and the design solution helped to achieve this.
  • Merit provided full design, developed from some outline layouts and user requirements.
  • Procurement was prioritised in accordance with requirements of the schedule to minimise the critical path. The laboratory construction and mechanical installations were self-performed by Merit personnel – this negated the need for the tendering process and we could focus on material ordering and execution once the design was issued for construction.