Winning and growing
10 Jan 2007
It’s been a good year for the construction industry in Scotland. High levels of public expenditure and a buoyant property market have kept most consultants’ offices very busy, while the acquisition of four established companies by SMC served as a reminder that running a practice is not just a labour of love and provoked speculation about the commercial future of the sector. Many consultants are keen to use this current spate of activity to prepare for any future changes in the market. Mixed–use has been the buzz–word for the year – it seems to be driven by risk aversion rather than planning policy – and mixed development is presenting consultants with interesting challenges. For architects, the issue is how to create animated public places, while engineers are solving structural and servicing design of a variety of different building types within a single shell and addressing a wide range of issues from land contamination, to infrastructure and the transfer of sound. We look at the results of this year’s MRUK survey, highlighting the companies that have performed well this year.Engineers Structural winners Topping the MRUK poll was Arup, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and continues to focus its portfolio on large–scale mixed–use developments such as Quartermile in Edinburgh. After several years of design development and consultation, the Quartermile project is now on site, the early phases are designed and Arup is overseeing implementations. Arup is also involved in the city’s Caltongate scheme and is working with Richard Murphy on the development of the design for the Haymarket site. On top of this, the practice continues to be actively involved with developments at Leith with Firth Ports. On the west coast, Arup has recently completed work at Glasgow Harbour and is working on the design of Elphinstone, a new tower to be erected on the site of the Old Strathclyde Regional Council at Charing Cross. At the SECC, Arup is involved in a variety of aspects of the scheme, including transport planning, the engineering structure of the arena, the master planning of the sustainable village and the design of a casino. The practice is also working on the large–scale plans for the regeneration of Drumchapel. Much of this work involved planning to improve the infrastructure to allow development. Arup continues to develop its work in transport, and approaches the task with enthusiasm. In addition to infrastructure projects, Arup is working on the high profile regeneration of Edinburgh’s Waverely Station. The practice is a consultant on the Waverely Steps project, and is also leading a team of consultants for the AMEC–SPIE £150million project to upgrade some of the station platforms and other facilities. While much of Arup’s work is about infrastructure, the practice still undertakes smaller projects. It is currently working with Elder and Cannon on the Jordanhill School – currently at design stage – and with Page/Park on the Rowanarden Field centre for the University of Glasgow, which is being extended and improved. “It’s a very busy time for us,” says Arup’s Brian Veitch. “We have about 500 projects on the go in Scotland. About a quarter of that workload is accounted for by about 10 or 20 big projects.” On top of these architectural and master planning projects, Arup is involved in a lot of civil work, on bridges and tunnels and developing strategies to manage and prevent flooding. It is currently engrossed in the Leith Flood Plane Protection scheme, halfway through six years of work. Arup is keen to diversify the services it offers. It is developing specialist work, such as acoustics, façade engineering and commissioning. As a result it is more wrapped up in process than products. Sustainability of the approach has become more important. One area on which Arup is focusing is communications. “Getting our message across is very important,” says Veitch. “We are looking beyond visualisation. By adding to visualisation, we can help the clients have a more meaningful idea of what the building will be like when it is completed. They can experience directly what certain design decision will mean for them.” Soundlab is a good example of this, and Arup plans to build a Soundlab in Scotland next year. There are other means to communicate spatial qualities. Showing what the internal environment, lighting and temperature will be like can be done within a real model. In most public projects, particularly hospitals, the client seems to be more focussed on the user and how they can help patients recover. Research shows that in some environments you can get better quicker. Fear of infection is a very big issues and Arup is using new technology and design to control infection. Through ventilation and other mechanisms, the practice has started to design hospitals with a small micro-ecosystem around each patients to prevent the transfer of infection. “There is lots of work and we are trying to grapple with those opportunities,” says Veitch. “We want to use this busy period to take forward certain ideas, collaborating with other design team members and contractors on the process of development and integrating new technologies. There is a swing in our thinking behind that now – we are more aware than ever of the importance of people.” Coming hot on the heels of Arup was David Narro, who has always been respected by architects in Scotland. There was a time when talented young architects would complain that Richard Murphy was hogging Narro, denying others the chance to work with a talented engineer. Things have moved on and Narro has been focusing his attention on extending his client base. His practice was 20 this year, it has 18 staff and has recently extended its office. The practice has been doing a lot of work with Gareth Hoskins, on the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, on the Culloden project and on the bridge at Easterhouse. It is also involved in a few projects with Sutherland Hussey and Simpson and Brown. Narro is also working with artists such as Jeremy Cunningham and Donald Urquart on public art works. Narro himself has joined A+DS as an enabler. He enjoys working closely with architects and really appreciates the strong design intentions of those his practice works with. Services Buro Happold takes the lead Buro Happold has grown rapidly over the past few years. It now has 120 staff in Scotland and is in the process of setting up an office in Belfast. It has also established an office in Copenhagen. Company director Rod Manson’s objective over the past few years was to establish the Glasgow office as a base for the business’s work in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. That strategy appears to be paying off. Earlier this year, Buro Happold won the commission for the European Patent Office in Den Haag, by Henning Larsens Tegnestue (HLT) Architects from Copenhagen. This project will cost 200million euro. The practice is also working with HTL on the Gentofte Sports Park, Copenhagen. On the Scottish front Buro Happold has been developing its work in the leisure sector. It is currently working on the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Centre, by HOK SVE Architects, the refurbishment of the Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh and the Forthbank Sports Centre with S and P Architects, and the Clydebank Leisure Centre by Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects. The Glasgow office continues to work on the new Transport Museum by Zaha Hadid at Glasgow Harbour and the Museum of Liverpool, by 3XN Architects. It has also picked up the commission to design the Burns National Heritage Project, by Simpson and Brown Architects. Manson is keen to get involved in education projects, so the practice is currently working on the Hazelwood SEN School at Dumbreck with gm+ad, and with ASL on a primary school. But it has not got involved in any PPP projects. Manson is concerned about staff interest and innovation and is not convinced that PPP contracts, which tend to involve buying services solutions in bulk, allow this. Cost Consultants Working outside of Scotland Colin Coates, Gardiner and Theobald’s senior partner in Scotland, says that G&T, as the practice is known, is working across all sectors and all procurement methods. The consultancy is currently working on the commercial section of Glasgow Harbour with Chapman Taylor and the SECC site, including the arena, with Norman Foster and Arup. G&T is a UK–wide company and operates as such. Cost consultants in Glasgow work on projects in London or Europe as well as Scotland because partners are organised around client relationships rather than office territory. The practice is now looking at emerging markets, and is already working in Ireland and Europe. G&T organises all of the offices as a single company and pools the resources of the offices to develop a very strong research base. On the basis of research and current work, G&T produces a tender price indicator. This information applies to different sectors and regions and is constantly moderated. Coates admits that it’s hard to get contractors to tender for work at present and that tenders are coming in high as a result of high demand, but he argues that G&T can produce accurate estimates of cost because of its research department. Over the past few years, Coates has seen a change in the structure of the industry, with old established contractors disappearing and new specialist contractors emerging. Legal Value over costs Neil Kelly is head of MacRoberts’ Construction Group and reports that the high levels of activity within the industry have led to increasing demand for informed advice from lawyers. MacRoberts came top of the MRUK poll. According to Kelly, the construction elements of public–private partnerships and similar major projects continue to have their own complexities and require innovative thinking on the part of lawyers. Renewable energy and transport are other fast-growing areas in which law firms are helping clients to develop new business strategies. “In mainstream building work there is a shift in emphasis,” says Kelly. “Parties are looking more and more at ‘value’ rather than ‘cost’ and to the fostering of long–term relationships to reduce the difficulties that can arise. As a result, construction lawyers are applying their skills to newer forms of contractual arrangements, from partnership agreements to long-term maintenance contracts.” The Scottish Building Contract Committee has begun to produce a new suite of ‘stand–alone’ Scottish building contracts covering the more traditional procurement routes. The government sponsored review of the 1996 legislation that introduced adjudication rumbles on and it is not clear if it will produce a more effective adjudication framework. Meanwhile, the number of reported cases from the courts on construction matters continues to grow. “Given the complexity of construction operations, disputes remain a feature of the sector,” says Kelly. “In addition to the normal payment, loss/expense and time disputes, we are increasingly advising parties in disputes relating to PFIs and PPPs as they mature and problems emerge.” Health and safety continues to be an important issue. The progress of the recently published draft of the UK–wide legislation to deal with corporate killing will be carefully watched. Contractors Subcontractors in demand For the second year running, consultants have expressed concern that the cost of tenders is coming in higher than expected. Contractors’ margins are still relatively narrow, but subcontractors are able to raise prices in response to an increase in demand. This seems to be a particular problem with services contractors. HBG Construction performed well in the survey as both a management contractor and a contractor. The business is currently working on a number of high–profile projects in Scotland, including several educational and health projects and the recently completed Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. ______________________________________________________________ MRUK Survey Results MRUK research company asked over 100 architects to name the design team consultants with which they had been most impressed over the past 12 months. Structural Engineers Winner Arup Runner up David Narro Contenders Buro Happold Cameron Ross Blyth & Blyth Faber Mansell Woolgar Hunter Service Engineers Winner Buro Hapold Runners up Hulley and Kirkwood Wallace and Whittle Contenders Arup Blyth & Blyth Henderson Warnock Irons Fouler KJ Tait RSP Consulting Whitby Bird White Young Green Quantity Surveyors/Cost Consultants Winner Gardiner and Theobald Runners up Armour and Partners Doig and Smith Contenders Curry and Brown McLeod and Aitken Morham and Brotchie Thomas and Adamson Surveyors Winner Ryden Runner up DM Hall Contenders Armour Partners Doig and Smith Graham and Sibbald Contractors and Subcontractors Winners HGB Construction Tulloch Contenders A&L King Cornhill Building services Cruden Hunter and Clark Robertsons Sharkey Sir Robert McAlpine Lawyers Winner MacRoberts Runner up Brodies Contenders McGrigor Macdonald McLay Murray & Spence McLure Naismith Simpson and Marwick Management Contractors Winner Sir Robert McAlpine Runner up HGB Construction Contenders Balfour Beattie Bovis Landscape Winner Ian White Associates Runner up City Design Co–op Contenders Gillespies Gross Max __________________________________________________ Salary Survey Hays Construction and Property Survey for 2006 ARCHITECTS Partner/director Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 58000 45000 100000 North West 48000 42000 55000 Scotland 44000 40000 50000 Associate Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 47000 42000 55000 North West 37000 33000 40000 Scotland 36000 31000 40000 Newly qualified, CAD expert Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 30000 28000 33000 North West 25000 23000 27000 Scotland 23000 19000 26000 Architectural assistant, part II Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 25000 22000 28000 North West 21000 18000 24000 Scotland 19000 16000 21000 Architectural assistant, part I Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 19000 17000 21000 North West 16000 10000 18000 Scotland 14000 12000 16500 Building Surveyors Partner/director, 45 Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 58000 50000 65000 North West 48000 40000 50000 Scotland 52000 45000 55000 Associate, 32, six years PQE Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 45000 42000 50000 North West 38000 35000 40000 Scotland 38000 35000 45000 Graduate building surveyor Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 22000 20000 24000 North West 19000 16000 22000 Scotland 18000 16000 20000 Project manager, 35, ARICS, five years’ experience Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 45000 42000 48000 North West 35000 30000 40000 Scotland 35000 32000 38000 Landscape Architects & Space Planners Landscape architect, eight to 10 years’ experience Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 32000 26000 38000 North West 29000 24000 31000 Scotland 27000 20000 29000 Landscape architects, three to five years’ experience Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 28000 24000 34000 North West 21000 17000 23000 Scotland 20000 18000 22000 Quantity Surveyors Partner/director, 45 Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 60000 50000 70000 North West 50000 40000 60000 Scotland 50000 45000 60000 Associate, 38, ARICS Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 47000 43000 55000 North West 40000 36000 45000 Scotland 40000 35000 50000 Newly qualified surveyor, 25 Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 32000 30000 36000 North West 25000 23000 27000 Scotland 26000 24000 30000 Graduate surveyor Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 22000 19500 25000 North West 17500 15500 19000 Scotland 18500 17000 22000 Structural Engineers Associate, 15 years’ experience Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 52000 49000 56000 North West 42000 38000 46000 Scotland 40000 37000 44000 Senior engineer, five years’ experience Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 37000 34000 42000 North West 32000 28000 36000 Scotland 30000 27000 32000 Graduate engineer Typical Minimum Maximum Central London 23000 20000 24000 North West 21000 18500 24000 Scotland 18000 17000 20000 ________________________________ left Glasgow’s SEEC Arena by Foster and Partners. above European Patent Office in Den Haag, by Henning Larsens Tegnestue (HLT) Architects. above left Clydebank Leisure centre by Kennedy Fitzgerald. above right SECC masterplan. above The Quartermile development, Edinburgh . Glasgow’s SEEC Arena by Foster and Partners.