Design changes add two years to BAM’s Aldgate project

BAM is making progress at Central House but it has proved more complicated than first envisaged

BAM has been working for around 18 months under a pre-contract service agreement (PCSA) but says that the scheme for Frasers Property has proven to be ‘highly complex’. 

When BAM was awarded the contract in August 2019, the work was costed at £65m and expected to be complete by November 2020. Completion is now set for autumn 2022 – two years later than originally planned, while construction costs have escalated by 20% to £78m.

The office project is designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), with whom BAM previously worked on the Angel building, New Scotland Yard and Chobham Academy.

The original plans for the building have, however, changed significantly as a result of the complexities that the team has uncovered.

BAM construction manager Rob Biddle explained: “There were very significant structural risks associated with the scheme and it took all the parties to engage in detail to review how best to resolve these. BAM has conducted over 50 additional intrusive surveys to get to know the building fabric as well as possible.

“The solution was more radical than originally envisaged but the client and design teams have been very collaborative and Frasers Property has been patient and excellent to work with despite these immense challenges. Our working relationships have been tested and have stood up extremely well.”

Central House at 59-63 Whitechapel High Street was originally a textiles factory but was most recently occupied by the its Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture & Design. It is now being converted to office use.

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Set over a floor area of 22,579 m2, the refurbishment will upgrade the six-storey concrete frame building, as well as adding a further six-storey steel structured extension above. BAM will retain the façade.

The BAM team has started piling recently and has been trialling techniques to conduct surveys and create virtual tours for the client team as the building progresses.

Rod Stiles, director of BAM Construction in London, said: “One thing essential to everybody’s success building in London, with its historic and compact structures, is a strong professional working relationship. I’m pleased this has been demonstrated by all parties here in creating a stunning new building behind a retained facade.

AHMM's design for the new office block
AHMM’s design for the new office block

“BAM’s collegiate and collaborative approach allows us to solve problems, innovate and add value as well as make exceptional buildings. That is our DNA and I’m looking forward to seeing it produce yet another outstanding contribution to London’s skyline.”

Burnley Wilson Fish is acting as quantity surveyor and contract administrator, while the structural engineer is Robert Bird Group. Sweco UK is building services engineer while BAM’s own Services Engineering team is installing the services.

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