Winner: Elliott Wood / Maber / Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure – Richard III Visitor Centre, Leicester
An extraordinary discovery called for some extraordinary architecture, engineering and construction.
And there was no doubt that the team involved in designing and building the King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester rose to the challenge.
From a strong field of finalists – several of which could have been a winner in another year – this £4.5m scheme stood out in both its concept and execution as well as its hugely complicated logistics.
The visitor centre tells the story of the ‘King in the car park’ and is located on the site of the grave where Richard’s III remains were found and within a 150-year-old Victorian building – a former grammar school.
The project therefore involved renovation and new build, fusing traditional with the ultra-modern and working closely with exhibition designers to help bring the story to life.
Visitors to the £4.5m centre will see a replica skeleton of the last Plantagenet king and the grave that held his body for 500 years.
“From a particularly good set of projects we have nevertheless a clear winner. The team showed excellent collaborative working to deliver what is a first-class project in every sense”
It tells the tale of Richard’s life, brief reign and death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, and the discovery of his grave in what had been the choir of the long-vanished Greyfriars church.
It was opened in July 2014 – less than 18 months after the confirmation of the remains discovered on the site were those of the king.
This incredibly short timescale required exemplary management of both time and budget to enable the centre to open on time and have no cost overruns.
As well as the tight schedule and an extremely restricted site, challenges for the construction team involved working around a live archaeological dig and numerous VIP visits, including a delegation led by the American ambassador.
As well as the complex engineering it entailed, the scheme’s sustainability credentials also caught the judges’ eye: 97 per cent of waste was diverted from landfill, low-energy lighting was used throughout, and 95 per cent of site operatives came from within a radius of 40 miles.
Safety was simiarly impressive: the project clocked up 142,000 worker-hours RIDDOR-free and there were only two minor incidents across the 18-month programme.
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