City College, STEM Building

Plymouth, Devon

Project Details


City College



Structural/ Civil Engineer


M&E Engineer:



Kier Construction



Contract Period

March 2016 – July 2017

Form of Contract

JCT 2001 Design & Build


3 Apprentices


9 weeks work placements

Project Summary

The design and construction of a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) building, along with remodelling and refurbishment of the existing adjacent hall to create a performing arts faculty with associated external works. The project consisted of a 5 storey concrete frame new build with steel frame and atrium.

Specialist design requirements included acoustic work on the ground floor for the music rooms and recording studios.

The design changed to incorporate £1m of value engineering. In the basement the performing arts changing was withdrawn, a handrail around the building for ease of maintenance and the column at the front was changed from square to a v.

Difficulties overcome included the lead designers relying heavily on our design managers and was a big project for the lead architect who struggled to keep up with the pace of the programme

The client was very happy with the result of the design, in particular the cladding and overhang. The result was lots of space for the budget and the internal spaces were well received.

Kier took a lead role in the design management of the project in order to keep to the programme.

“Worked well on occupied site and understood the importance of safe operation. Regular project meetings and documented updates worked well. Very impressed with the approach to H&S on-site and off-site – well managed.”

“We’re delighted with it. It’s mind-blowing.”

Community Engagement

Career Development

  • During the project there were 3 management apprentices in Structural engineering from Plymouth University. The project supported the Step In and Step Up programme to encourage career changes into construction and also facilitated a 2 week placement in site management for a former Royal Marine.

Key Challenges

Live campus environment required weekly co-ordination meetings with the Clients estates team to ensure deliveries were kept a a minimum during peak campus activity.

Demolition of existing building on a live campus. To minimise risk, demolition of the existing building was carried out during school holidays. A robust risk method statement was developed which included dampening dust and protective screens over large glazing.

Project Takeaways

Our Success

  • Value management was carried out on the existing building roof through overlaying a roofing system rather than replacing the entire roof. It was identified that there was no requirement for new plant, resulting in a quick solution and avoided lost time.
  • Examples of value engineering on the project included reducing the depths of overhangs on the eaves. This created a more definite frame, reducing construction of the floor overhang to be supported from the ground. The style of the balustrades was also changed and the atrium changed from glass roof to 3 large roof lights.
  • Best practice of innovation is demonstrated in the curved handrails on the roof; they have been designed so that they are not visible from the ground but still ensure safety when carrying out maintenance on the roof.
  • Innovation was demonstrated through the concrete wash out used.

Our Learnings

  • To ensure the safety and security of the site, there was a full hoarding around the perimeter which was inspected daily, skips were covered and delivery restrictions at peak times.
  • Off-site storage was established so that materials only arrived on site when required.

Value Added

  • The key cost drivers were the financial targets and due to a client funding agreement there was a turnover date that had to be met.
  • The programme was driven by the College who needed the building to be in use for September 2017.