A ‘one stop shop’ solution to the building envelope

September 15th, 2015 Posted in: Industry Issues, Lakesmere

As consumer confidence starts to recover, the retail construction market is enjoying a revival with the growth of large, mixed-used schemes that provide everything from shopping outlets to leisure facilities and residential elements.

As one of the biggest markets outside of housebuilding, retail construction has historically been dominated by the supermarket chains but as the big names start to reign back on their investment, activity is being fuelled by new schemes that provide consumers with the ultimate convenience store. A recent example from our own order book is the new First Street development in Manchester, a vibrant new neighbourhood in the heart of the city centre. The Lakesmere North team completed various roofing and cladding work as part of the creation of First Street’s new retail block, four-star hotel and multi-storey car park, successfully overcoming the challenges of working on several different elements simultaneously.

On such urban projects that have a very small site footprint, increasingly main contractors are realising the benefits of working with specialist contractors that can deliver more the one package of works.  By limiting the number of subcontractors so there are fewer trades to coordinate, the project can not only benefit from faster construction programmes but there is also the increased reliability and reassurance of having all work and warranties with the one supplier.

Mixed-use schemes also present complex design challenges and coordination between the difference interfaces can be problematic. The building envelope needs to be cohesive and yet meet the technical requirements of the scheme’s individual elements and this is particularly important if the project features residential or hotel accommodation alongside retail and leisure areas. Although the increasing use of BIM will help to better coordinate the design and installation of the different interfaces, this can also be achieved by working with one specialist that can solely deliver the full building envelope as efficiency is improved and there are greater opportunities for value engineering.

A recent example of how the Lakesmere Group’s full range of services have been employed is at the new Resorts World Birmingham at the city’s National Exhibition Centre. This major development is set to be the UK’s first integrated destination leisure complex, featuring various facilities including a hotel, shopping malls, conference suites, spa and casino. Here, Lakesmere is delivering the cladding and curtain walling package and McMullen Facades is designing and fabricating the glazing elements.

Multi-sector experience is also vital as retail construction is no longer limited to superstores and shopping centres but is increasingly becoming part of other infrastructure. At Canary Wharf’s new Crossrail Station for example, as the Lakesmere team completed the station box’s attractive buttress and sloped cladding, the McMullen team was delivering an innovative glazing package, including the shop front glazing to the station’s four storeys of retail space, two levels of which are underwater.

The needs of the customer are at the heart of the retail sector and this is just as true for the retail construction market. Specialists must be able to demonstrate their adaptability and those that are able to perform in difficult site locations and provide main contractors, architects and clients with the comprehensive range of services and sector experience that they demand will ultimately make the sale.

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