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Open Doors Week: The 13-floor hotel with only 12 storeys

Bounded by St Botolph Without Aldgate church on one side and Aldgate tube station on the other, Willmott Dixon’s Dorsett City Hotel occupies your classic London ‘tight site’.

The site is so small, in fact, that there was limited room for site cabins – so instead, the team refurbished the crypt of the neighbouring church and has set up shop in there, in between the bones.

This is where our Open Doors tour starts, as we’re given a run-down of the project before a tour of all 13 floors of the hotel.

Hong Kong-based Dorsett Hospitality International has employed Willmott Dixon to build its second UK hotel – the other being in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Due to local Hong Kong superstition, one of the building’s quirks is its lack of a fourth floor, with the number four associated with death in the Far East.

This 13-floor hotel, therefore, has only 12 storeys.

Open Doors 2016 Willmott Dixon Dorsett City Hotel 13

Open Doors 2016 Willmott Dixon Dorsett City Hotel 13

We climb stairs to check out each floor, ending on the roof in the rain, with a superb view of the London landmarks that surround us: the Gherkin, Tower Bridge, the Cheesegrater and, in the distance, Canary Wharf.

Senior building manager Leon Bastajian shows us around, with J Reddington’s concrete frame almost completed – only one half of the top floor is still to be poured.

On the floors below, the fit-out subcontractors are at work, with the unitised cladding system being installed in-between.

“It’s been really useful to see how a site works and to see what it’s really like”

Stephanie Thompson, DQ Associates

There are three others on the tour. Guillermo is a structural engineer taking a break from the industry who wanted to keep up to date with what was going on.

And Stephanie Thompson and Faisal Ahmed have come over the road from the offices of DQ Associates, a recruitment consultancy, to learn more about the industry and the roles they recruit for – particularly Ms Thompson, who is new to the industry.

Open Doors 2016 Willmott Dixon Dorsett City Hotel 5

Open Doors 2016 Willmott Dixon Dorsett City Hotel 5

“It’s been really useful to see how a site works and to see what it’s really like,” she says.

It’s a complex job with multiple demanding stakeholders surrounding it, requiring delicate planning – but the job is going to plan so far, with Willmott Dixon’s time on site building the shell and core due to complete in September this year.

Dorsett City Hotel

Contractor: Willmott Dixon
Concrete frame subcontractor: J Reddington
Piling subcontractor: Keller
Demolition subcontractor: Squibb Group
Cladding subcontractor: Deepdale
Structural engineer: Waterman Group
Client: Dorsett Hospitality International
Value: £14m
Start date: June 2015
Completion date: September 2016

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