It’s always a special moment in your career when you stop for a moment and contemplate how far a project has come. It’s usually when you arrive at a major milestone: such as the completion of a key section of work, the handover of an area or a whole project. On larger projects, these moments can feel further apart or are not as noticeable, particularly if you are working on the same scheme for a number of years. Every day on a construction project is spent working towards completing tasks and getting new ones started. On a complex project, the pace and scope of work is intense and so it’s all the more important to take a moment to reflect on progress.
I’m currently working as Senior Site Manager on Three Snowhill in Birmingham as part of a large team to deliver a 19 storey office block development for our client Ballymore. We have recently reached a key milestone, the completion of the concrete cores.
After a technically intensive period in the basement, where we configured the existing building to suit the new design, we had to build three cores rising out of the basement up to 81.5m above the ground. As the cores were built, I was busy monitoring progress using S Curves and using the data to project the completion of each core and align it with the following programme. I also used this information to co-ordinate the installation of the hoist and the haki, providing us with two forms of access to each core.
One evening, recently, I stood at the top of the core and looked across the Birmingham skyline. We had just completed the first core, and this felt like a key point in the project. One of the things I love about being a construction professional is that we get a very unique view of the surrounding areas. We get to see views that others will never see, like the view from a crane or the view from a scaffold staircase. Sometimes these views are only available for a short period of time and it can feel a privilege being able to see a unique perspective of an area. Our jobs are based on information, calculations, drawings, and digitalised models. It’s good occasionally just to stop and appreciate the beauty of what we create.
The other two cores followed, quickly changing the skyline of Birmingham. Then we stripped the slipform rigs off the top of the cores. This task took intensive planning, from looking at the way we would split the rig, to analysing how best to lift each section. The expertise of the whole team and supply chain were brought together to ensure we planned, managed and monitored the stripping of the rigs successfully.
We now have all three tower cranes in place on the project: another key milestone. We’ve started on the steelwork and I am using the S Curve process again to monitor the speed of installation against the required programme outputs. Once again, I am fully absorbed by this, as attention to detail is important to ensure progress is being monitored closely on a day-to-day basis. But, already I am aware that soon we will reach the next key milestone and once again I’ll be able to reflect on what we have achieved as we continue to shape the Birmingham skyline. That’s what makes my job so fascinating.