The Chartered Institute of Building has announced the 2019 Construction Manager of the Year. Sir Robert McAlpine manager Joseph McNeil beat off competition from 79 other finalists to claim the award.
Mr McNeil secured the award for his first project as lead, working on complex refurbishment work at 120 Oxford Street, London.
Sir Robert McAlpine was offered this job following the failure, two weeks after site start, of the more competitively priced contractor that had originally won the tender. Joseph McNeil took on his first role as project manager without any prior knowledge of the scheme and with the lower storeys of the building already vacated, the hoardings up and the client keen to get the works restarted as fast as possible.
Joseph quickly mobilised his team and got the early works packages moving. Even more importantly, he challenged the demolition methodology of diamond-saw cutting without percussive breaking. His successful proposal to use hydraulic crunching instead achieved substantial programme and cost benefits, as well as disruption-minimising low levels of noise, and allowed a contract agreement to be finalised.
He overcame the substantial challenge of managing an incoming tenant’s requirements that conflicted with the specification for the screeding. His proposal of a mix of repair works, levelling compounds and new screeds represented a significant saving on the tenant’s original request for the removal and replacement of all existing screeds. It also accelerated the programme, allowing for an earlier unit completion and tenant occupation date.
By working closely with his supply chain, Joseph was also able to offer improvements on the design team’s proposals. The most significant was for the reconfiguration of the building’s main power supplies to feed the new retail units: by re-using some elements of the existing low-voltage infrastructure, he reduced the scope of the new works and saved costs.
The direct benefit the power solution brought the client was a relationship of trust and this was one of the principal drivers for the extensive contract growth on the project. Combined with defect and snag-free delivery on time and on budget, it has also resulted in Joseph’s appointment as leader of a team to deliver further opportunities for the client.
Stephen Bradbury MCIOB, one of the judges for the refurbishment category, said: “This was Joseph’s first project as the lead. He delivered with passion and took ownership from the start on a tricky scheme in a difficult location. Joseph demonstrated a maturity of thought and decision making beyond his age or experience. This project had many opportunities to go wrong, but the detailed and methodical approach taken by Joseph made sure this was a success – and he delivered to such a high standard that Joseph has subsequently negotiated another project with the same client.”
On winning the Construction Manager of the Year award, Joseph McNeil said: “It’s amazing. Now I’m going to be on the Wall of Fame in the corridor next year! I want to thank my team and I want to add that the ladies on my table were instrumental in the success of my project; certainly, three of the most influential people on my work are present and I want to thank them.”
The award was presented at a ceremony in London last night, 18 September.