The first dental hospital for 40 years presents unique challenges because of the high level of technical requirements, which were successfully met by close co-operation between the project’s partners
When the new Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry is completed this year, it will be the first of its kind to be built in the UK for 40 years.
Constructed on the former BBC Pebble Mill studio site, the development has been acclaimed as a key element within the emerging Edgbaston Medical Quarter. The £50 million project is led by main contractor Galliford Try, with Interserve Engineering Services Ltd (IESL) tasked with delivering the mechanical and electrical aspects of the job in a contract worth just under £11m.
Consisting of two main blocks of four storeys, connected by a central atrium that includes the main entrance, each of these has a rooftop plant room. An energy centre has also been constructed, adjacent to the north block and housing electrical HV/LV switch plant (also fed by an externally-located generator), delivering 2MVA mains supply. The energy centre also houses a 24,000l potable water storage tank.
Driven by a consortium that includes Calthorpe Estates, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, University of Birmingham and Birmingham & Solihull LIFT, work began on site in September 2013. Galliford Try was awarded the contract after it was listed as one of two preferred bidders alongside Skanska, which subsequently withdrew from the project.
Galliford Try building services manager Martin Shields has been involved in all aspects of the project from his company’s initial engagement. He states that consultant Couch Perry Wilkes (CPW) provided the concept design and also describes how IES came to be chosen.
“We looked at five companies for the M&E role initially before reducing to two for the full tendered works,” he says. “IESL were successful and their experience in health played a large part of the decision making process, their expertise in healthcare came through.”
His company is obviously satisfied with its choice of contractor, as it has also awarded the M&E contract to IES for a new residential mental health facility for young people in the Northampton area following the high degree of collaboration that has continued throughout the construction of Birmingham Dental Hospital. After starting on site in April 2014, IESL was engaged in the completion and a three month commissioning cycle for the plant and building at the time of the H&V News visit.
Construction of any building that includes just under 15,500 sq m of floorspace will always provide challenges, but the variety of specialist activities within the new Dental Hospital has added to these considerably. In addition to a variety of dental treatment areas and lecture and study rooms, the facility also includes laboratories, meeting rooms, a restaurant and coffee shop.
Interserve Engineering Services director Kelvin Wyke outlines the challenges in more detail: “The building has a BREEAM Excellent rating, so we’ve had to include a number of measures to achieve this, such as early commissioning management involvement, building user guide and thermal modeling. There are also medical gases on site, including oxygen and nitrous oxide, plus compressed air and vacuum plant/systems and an anesthetic gas scavenging system as well.”
His company has also installed motion and absence detection systems for the lighting, along with a security system, induction loops, panic alarms, general power and IT services and a PA system.
Mr Wyke further explains the project has required the installation of a number of controls to monitor and limit the use of utilities and resources, including lighting, water and energy, with leak detection systems also installed for refrigerants and water. Natural ventilation and night time cooling has also been incorporated to further reduce the load on the heating and cooling system.
The BMS system manages the night time cooling with one of the options advising the client to open windows when the internal temperature reaches the necessary internal/external levels, ensuring optimum use of the chillers.
Renewable energy has also been incorporated in the form of a 150kW solar thermal system that includes panels mounted on the roof of the south-facing plant rooms. “This is linked to a 10,000l thermal store and will provide a good proportion of the domestic hot water during the summer months,” says Mr Wyke. “We’ve also fitted recuperates on the air handling unit (AHU) plant, which give a heat recovery of 1,700kW at peak load.”
One of the benefits resulting from the various energy efficiency measures has been a reduction in the amount of heating required. This has led to the installation of 1,700kW Hoval gas condensing boilers, located in the main plant room on the roof of the south block. Each plant room includes three main AHUs, with the main cooling required supplied by two Carrier air cooled 700kW chillers, each with 270kW of free cooling at 0 degrees C. Vacuum/compressed air plant are also located in the plant rooms.
Radiant and Radiator panels will distribute heat in the main dental bays, offices, meeting rooms and laboratories, with a wet underfloor heating system installed beneath the floor of the atrium, which houses the main reception area.
Further challenges also arose from the number of people that were required on site. Mr Wyke states that the number of M&E workers on site exceeded 250 at times and required careful management of logistics in all areas, with further complexity resulting from the site having a single entrance and exit.
In addition to these, exacting requirements in the plant room and all treatment areas had to be met. The use of building information modelling was used for clash detection within the plant rooms, while considerable care was exercised to ensure that services did not impinge on the treatment areas, which are bound by strict criteria on available space within the working area.
“We’ve probably got as many services located under the floor than in the ceiling,” Mr Wyke explains. “All the wet, medical gases and some air systems are beneath the floor, with electrical distribution, fire , security and lighting systems and other air systems in the ceiling.”
While some modular units were used for horizontal and some of the vertical risers, plus prefabrication pipework for plant areas, there was still a large proportion of on-site fabrication required. The lack of on-site storage space meant that all aspects of the project had to be carefully controlled at all times.
More than 150 specialist dental chairs are located throughout the building for both the training and treatment areas, requiring electricity, water and medical gas services. RA90 natural lighting has also been installed in the treatment areas.
Mr Shields states that a Soft Landings programme has also been established to ensure the building meets its requirements in all areas. “The BMS system alone is very detailed and we want to make sure that we hand over the building in a responsible way,” he says.
As the construction phase reaches its final stages, Mr Wyke is keen to stress the importance of the good working relationship between Galliford Try and IESL: “This has been a very complicated project, but we’ve managed to overcome all the various challenges by working closely together throughout. This building is a stand out landmark project and its location means it will be seen by a lot of people, so I’m very pleased that we’ll be associated with this in the years to come.”
Following numerous reports of the rising number of construction projects, expected to continue to increase for the foreseeable future, the successful delivery of the Birmingham Dental Hospital provides a number of valuable lessons for companies in all areas of the industry. The importance of close working relationships at all times is arguably the most prominent among these.