In the late 1980s, the Broadgate property development in the City of London pioneered a new type of high quality construction, and was the overall winner of the first British Construction Industry Awards. For perhaps the first time, the client was able to demonstrate to others that by positive and total involvement in the project it was able to get a major commercial project built quickly, economically and to high quality while sticking to the original brief. The client was Rosehaugh Stanhope, with Arup Associates working as architect, structural, mechanical and electrical engineer as well as quantity surveyor.
The four offi ce blocks which make up the development were among the fastest built in the UK vastly exceeding average production rates for fully fitted out UK offices. Phase one was completed at a rate of 247m2 a week, compared with an average of 169m2. Phase two was even faster, and by phase three, completion was at a rate of 672m2 a week.
Despite the speed, costs were 25% lower than any other office development in London, with more than 156,000m2 of space provided to shell and core for £165M, to a higher specification than for most other City projects.
Broadgate was also an early air rights development, as it was built above the tracks feeding into Liverpool Street railway station. It was agreed that Rosehaugh Stanhope would pay British Rail £75M to allow it to redevelop the station in return for access to neighbouring land. The aim was to develop high specification offices for foreign banks which were expected to flood to the City following the “Big Bang” fi nancial deregulation in the late 1980s.
The project also pioneered construction management, which gave the client more control over the supply chain. It was also an early attempt at non-confrontational procurement at a time when relationships within construction teams were heading for their nadir.
The 68 trade contractors were treated as equals, allowed to input their own expertise and raise issues without fear or retribution. They were also guaranteed payment within 21 days.
The project also used prefabrication, so that ready made building elements like cladding, glazing and even radiators could be preassembled and lifted into place. This along with the use of mobile formwork helped speed construction and keep costs down.
The project’s success paved the way for other pioneering developments and projects notably at Canary Wharf in London’ Docklands, High Speed 1 and at BAA’s airports.