An Interview with Henry Armstrong: Project Manager at Graham Construction
Can you give us an outline of the project as a whole – what are the various stages of the regeneration going to include?
We are doing a complete refurbishment of the North Block of Senate House. We’re stripping out all the non-original partition walls, reinstating original and new floor finishes and upgrading and replacing the ceiling finishes. We’ll be totally re-wiring the North Block, with new electrical and plumbing installations. We’re refurbishing the existing internal and external windows, cleaning and repairing the external stone surfaces of the courtyard and last, but not least, constructing the new glazed roof enclosure of the courtyard.
What has been happening on site so far?
The official start date on site for works is 1st December, but up until now we’ve been carrying out some preparatory design development and procuring sub-contractors – electricians, mechanics, ground workers etc.
What are the main challenges of such a big project?
There are some technical challenges. We have restricted access to the courtyard – there’s no vehicular access at all, so to combat that we’ll have to lift machinery over the roof of Senate House by crane and take as much through the basement as possible. There’re also heritage challenges – we need to maintain the existing fixtures, fittings and finishes and carry out some restoration work to English Heritage’s standards.
How are you going to preserve the characteristics of the original building?
We’re putting up temporary protection around the original features, fixtures and fittings. We’re also making sure that any new elements that we’re introducing are aesthetically sympathetic to the original features.
Give us an idea of how the finished development will look?
It’ll look amazing! The courtyard with its glazed roof canopy will have a real wow factor. There are some artist’s impressions up on the hoardings which give a good idea of how it will look.
What are you working on right at this moment?
We’ve been setting up the staff welfare huts and site accommodation. In a couple of weeks, we’ll be bringing the plant onto the site – then the hard work will start.