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Tight timescale

London's new landmark will take people on a half hour ride above the Thames. The timescale for the 20M project is daunting - chief design and build contractor Hollandia only started work three months ago, yet the project is scheduled to finish on 31 December 1999, ready for the team to see in the new millennium from the wheel itself. Fabrication has already started and civils work begins on site in a month or so.

Design and build was chosen for a number of reasons, explains Mace project director Tim Renwick. It was felt to offer the most benefits in terms of quality of design, proximity to the supply chain and achieving what was wanted in terms of quality and programme. Mace is construction manager for what will be either six or seven packages.

Ove Arup & Partners had carried out the feasibility engineering design work up to tender documents. Mitsubishi had originally won the design and build contract but has since left the project. Hollandia and Poma Group have each been awarded one of three major design and construct packages and the third, covering civils work such as the foundations, is currently out to tender (NCE 15 October).

Hollandia's work covers the structure of the wheel, its supports, drive mechanisms, boarding platform and A frame struts, while Poma's package includes the capsules, controls and services at the boarding area.

They work through three primary contact points; Mace as project manager and construction manager, Allott & Lomax as independent checking engineer and architects David Marks and Julia Barfield. Client is the Millennium Wheel Company and the wheel's official name is the British Airways London Eye. It will be operated by The Tussauds Group.

Hollandia was appointed in September, though had earlier worked on the project as specialist adviser on how to erect the structure.

'They were regarded as having not just the manufacturing and delivery capability but also the intellectual capability to manage projects of this nature. They have significant experience of difficult structural steelwork projects,' says Renwick. Hollandia has appointed its own design group, with Iv-Infragroep carrying out the structural design.

Components for the 1,500t structure are being sourced from all around Europe including tubular steel for the rim from British Steel, cables from Tensoteci in Italy and spindles from Czech company Skoda.

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