BAM Contractors – How the West was won!

There is a lot going on at NUI Galway at the moment. Amongst the various construction projects that are either underway or about to commence is the 20 million Clinical Research and Translational Research Facility. This project is located within the grounds of the University Hospital Galway campus.

BAM was awarded the contract to construct the five-storey building (gross floor area 5,345m²) which is directly adjacent to the University’s Clinical Science Institute, UHG’s Critical Care Facilities, Ward Accommodation Block and the Maternity Wards. Construction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015 and some 125 construction jobs will be created at the project’s peak. The architectural firm undertaking the project is Reddy Architecture & Urbanism, the structural engineers are Barrett Mahoney and services engineering is provided by Homan O’Brien.

 NUI-CTRF-Perspective-SE-ViewNUIG-CTRF-Perspective-SW-ViewThe high tech project will facilitate cutting-edge medical research alongside patient care in University Hospital Galway. It’s also hoped that this sharing of medical expertise and accommodation including HSE in-patient facilities will have a positive impact on clinical research, an aspect of the facility that’s largely being funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) and private philanthropy. The Translational Research Facility will be on the second and third floor of the building and will accommodate open and flexible lab spaces. It will have direct links to the Clinical Science Institute where many of the University’s medical students are located, at both ground and second floor levels. The HRB Clinical Research Facility occupies the ground and first floors; this will form part of an Irish Network of Clinical Research Facilities, allowing patients access to state-of-the-art clinical research in stem cells, gene therapy, biomaterials and immunology. It will also have a space specially designed for clinical research in regenerative medicine. The CRF will have direct links to the existing hospital at both ground and first floor levels and will be fully owned and operated by the Health Services Executive and University Hospital Galway.

Padraig Walsh at BAM is the Contract Manager on the project while Luke Gibbons is the Project Director. “The new project is right in the heart of the hospital campus so it’s a very tight site with major logistical challenges involving getting materials in and out,” says Luke. “It involves a lot of service diversion and rerouting of roads prior to the main construction starting. In conjunction with the HSE and NUI Galway, a lot of detailed planning is going into the project to ensure the works don’t impact on the daily operation of the campus.” The BAM team has to make sure traffic flow is maintained on the hospital ring road while works are taking place; priority is given to emergency vehicles at all times and this issue is dealt with by the site specific traffic management plan. “We’re using a precast concrete frame so that will decrease the number of deliveries to the site during this phase.” Works around live services are also an issue as the existing hospital campus contains multiple service utilities both above and below ground. According to Luke Gibbons, “Other issues we need to be aware of are the risk of Aspergillus infection to patients from the work activities and noise levels from the project. The scheduling of tie-ins to existing hospital infrastructure is dependent on close co-operation with the HSE as well.”

The timelines on this project are especially tight; the construction will be undertaken in two phases.  During the initial phase, a temporary access road will be built through the site to allow for the de-commissioning, diversion and installation of new service provisions like water mains, oxygen, storm and foul sewers, natural gas, medical gas, electrical and data cabling. A new permanent access road will also be constructed during this phase, which will link the rear of the Maternity Ward Block with the campus ring road network. When this road is finished and handed over to the client, phase two works will commence which will be the actual construction of the building over the following year. Associated external works inside the phase 2 site boundary and links to the existing CSI and Ward Block 2A Buildings will also be actioned within this second phase.

NUIG-Engineering-BuildingIt’s expected that upon completion, this project will be as well-regarded as the Engineering Building that BAM constructed in 2009 on the NUIG Campus. This ‘gateway’ project to the north campus reinterpreted the University’s original 1845 Quadrangle building and has been lauded as a “living laboratory” for engineering where live data sets from different types of sensors illustrate structural engineering and building performance concepts in undergraduate teaching and in the development of full-scale research in structural engineering and energy. It’s a multi-award winning building, having scooped the Best Educational Building at the Local Authority Members Association (LAMA) Awards 2013; the RIAI Irish Architecture’s Public Choice and the Best Sustainable Project Awards; the Irish Building and Design Award for School and Educational Building Project of the Year; and the Irish Concrete Society’s Sustainability Award. The Engineering building was BAM’s first major project in the Western region, cementing the firm’s presence in that part of the country. Other projects in the West include four schools (completed as part of the Schools Bundle 3 PPP project), all completed on time and budget which included a 400 pupil mixed school on a greenfield site in Ballinamore in Co Sligo; a new secondary school on a shared site in Doughiska, Co Galway; and a Gaelcholaiste, a relocation of an existing school in Letterkenny, Co Donegal. BAM is also in the throes of finishing off Phase 2 of the expansion of Sligo IT. “Traditionally we would have been prevalent in Munster and Leinster. Now, we have a significant amount of work going on nationally as well as in the North where we’re working on the construction of Ulster Hospital,” said Luke Gibbons. Works at the Belfast Hospital include 12 wards, each with 24 single en-suite bedrooms, four day surgery theatre suites and three endoscopy suites. The building commenced in May 2013 and the duration of the contract is 38 months.

NUI Galway is known as one of the more progressive universities with an excellent track record in securing funding and expanding their campus. “Strategically, the university has been a very important client for us. They’re continually developing the campus so it’s great to be involved and get a share of the work that they’re involved in,” says Pádraig Walsh.

BAM is also about to commence another project on the UHG campus – the Adult Acute Mental Health Hospital. Consisting of the relocation of the existing Acute Adult Mental Health Unit (AAMHU) at University Hospital Galway (UHG), to a newly constructed two-storey 50 bed facility, the project is a public works contract designed by the contractor with a 90 week construction programme.

The Adult Acute Mental Health Facility incorporates an out-patient department on the site of an existing staff car park within the grounds of UHG. The new AAMHU will have a gross internal floor area of 4741.3m2 including a rooftop plant room to the western end of the plan, together with associated site works. In total, 170 existing car parking spaces will be displaced arising out of the development; a new two storey car park consisting of 238 spaces together with associated site works will be built in the existing car park to the north east of the helipad on the new hospital ring road. The decommissioning of a fuel tank and LPG facility also form part of this contract on the car park site. BAM will also be responsible for the relocation of the ambulance service. The AAMHU site involves work adjacent to electrical HV services and a sewerage pumping station.

Again, the €15 million project will be divided into two phases; the first phase consists of the construction of a double storey deck car park of 238 car parking spaces together with associated site works. Temporary ambulance parking, widening of the road and the provision of a permanent path, the construction of the double storey car park and the re-surfacing of the existing car park make up the first phase. Phase 2 consists of the construction of the two storey 50 bed Facility.

Similar to the CRF-TRF, a major challenge with this build is ensuring that hospital traffic is not hampered in any way during the construction. Out-of-hours working will be a necessity, especially in the early phase of the project when relocation of services will be undertaken. Life safety systems such as medical gases will also have to be relocated without disrupting in any way the function of the live hospital. In addition, live electrical ring main services will also have to be relocated without causing disruption. “It’s a very tight site so in order to maintain the excellent working relations we have with both the HSE and neighbour’s, we ensure that we liaise with them regularly and inform them of any future plans which may impact on them,”  says Padraig Walsh. The BAM team must be vigilant when it comes to keeping noise levels at a minimum so as not to disturb hospital patients and staff and particular care will be paid to ensure that airborne spores are not allowed contaminate the live hospital.

The completion of these two projects at NUI Galway/UHG coupled with the existing Engineering Building and the Bank of Ireland extension (on the NUI Galway Campus) will further cement BAM’s reputation in the West.

The BAM brand and the ability of the company to carry out large scale multidisciplinary projects ensures that they continue to maintain a strong position in this current market both regionally and nationally.

This article first appeared in Irish Building Magazine and can be viewed with this link.