Architect Edward Williams Architects has admitted the practice has suffered a ‘significant impact’ caused by the huge delays on the Midland Metropolitan Hospital project
It was confirmed yesterday (11 December) that work would finally restart on the £588 million ‘glass palace’ project in Smethwick, west of Birmingham city centre, after a new builder was found to replace collapsed contractor Carillion.
All construction on the scheme stopped in January 2018 following Carillion’s liquidation and only weathering repair works have been carried out since. The building, which is being designed with HKS and STA as architectural healthcare lead, had not been watertight when the contractor went under almost two years ago.
Now a new deal reportedly worth around £267 million has been signed between client Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust and contractor Balfour Beatty, which will see the project finally completed in 2022, almost four years late.
But Edward Williams Architects has admitted the standstill was tough on the practice. A spokesperson said: ’The pause from January 2018 to August 2018 [with] no work then weathering works from October 2018 to now, has had a significant impact on our practice.’
They added: ’During the pause we concentrated on broadening our portfolio of work […] but it has nevertheless prevented us from presenting to prospective clients the completed working hospital. A considerable lengthening of the construction program is often underestimated as the most costly factor for the architectural team.’
The architect said that, despite Carillion’s collapse, the design had not altered significantly and that since August 2018, the practice and HKS had been working on completing the ‘complex foil cushion roof of the winter garden’.
However the spokesperson went on: ’For the broader community and the hospital itself the pause has meant significant disruption to planned healthcare modernisation and delivery and a delay to the regeneration of the area, for which the completed hospital will act as a powerful catalyst.
Balfour Beatty, which won the tender to deliver the hospital, had been working on the interim enabling and remediation works.
Dean Banks, chief executive at Balfour Beatty UK Construction Services, said: ’This is a key project for The Midlands and a long-awaited moment for healthcare services in the local community. Following the successful completion of the early works phase, we are pleased that we have been entrusted to deliver the final elements of the scheme.’
Both HKS and Edward Williams Architects will continue to support Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust and Balfour Beatty to provide architectural services for the completion of the main contract works.
Once completed, the new hospital will have about 670 beds and 15 operating theatre suites. The project includes a fully enclosed winter garden and internal car parking on the ground and first floors ‘to create a secure environment for both patients, visitors and staff’.