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Client of the Year: Winner

Winner: The Pirbright Institute (BBSRC) Development Programme

The delivery of high containment facilities is highly risky as projects are often delayed in the construction, validation, license or occupation stages.

Going against this grain, the £135m Plowright Virology Centre project stands out, with the contract delivered a week early and the facility attaining its licence within 12 months, as scheduled.

As well as being delivered early, the project also produced significant savings, coming in around £1m under budget – highly unusual for such a facility.

The project team placed considerable value on community engagement and reached out to a local sixth form college with a design competition for aspects of the building.

In addition, it worked with schools and colleges through STEM ambassador education schemes.

The Pirbright Institute placed a heavy emphasis on the culture that marks the job out, one that shifted from the impersonal to the personal.

Central to this was clear, regular lines of communication between key members of the team and different stakeholders.

“An outstanding achievement from a standing start, showing true innovation delivered with a total passion and commitment. Not content with this, the client has found ways of significantly improving on this exemplary start with its second project on this site”

Judges’ comment

Negative culture was proactively driven out. Although the project was pre-Level 2 BIM, it did have full room data sheets to avoid a culture of first come first served.

Involving the supply chain was critical, not just in terms of values and principles, but in practical efficiencies.

The Pirbright Institute’s suppliers clearly bought into its approach, with the client also keen to hear whether it was meeting its supply chains expectations.

Accordingly, Pirbright invited firms to score its performance on things such as whether it was giving them all the information they needed and if it was paying them on time.

This approach and attitude were evidently well received, with the judges impressed with the strength of the relationships established.

Pirbright also drew praise for how its philosophy of prioritising its supply chain relationships permeated throughout its operations.

It also demonstrated efforts to encourage issues to be raised early and dealt with constructively as quickly as possible.

This approach will now be taken forward, with The Plowright Virology Centre set to be joined by four more projects that will take the programme to 10-plus years totalling £250m.

Highly Commended: Argent

The judges cited Argent as a progressive developer that competitors should try to emulate, after it demonstrated several of the credentials that make it a great client.

Carillion, for example, says it has the “utmost respect” for Argent and its approach to business, which it looks to base on honesty, openness and integrity.

The judging panel was impressed by how Argent had helped enable Bam, Carillion and Kier to work well alongside one another at its 27 ha King’s Cross development.

Teamwork and partnerships were clearly shown to be among the critical factors considered by the client in selecting contractors.

“Argent and Carillion demonstrated how continuous innovation could be brought to a strong partnership”

Judges’ comment

Supply chain collaboration has been taken seriously and Argent drew praise for putting quality above cost.

Community engagement was similarly embraced, with the company creating a skip garden at King’s Cross and local youngsters selling the produce.

Finalists

Derwent London

Environment Agency

Great Portland Estates

Maro Developments

Surrey County Council (Walton Bridge Project)

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