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John Smith

Specialised Subjects

Civil Engineering, Construction, Engineering, Mathematics, Operations Management, Politics, Project Management, Property, Quantitative Methods

I am currently PhD research student. My interests are effective management and successful model for project and project management in construction. I completed my MSc Construction Management and passed with Commendation. I have another qualification of BSc Civil Engineering in Roads and Bridges Construction, and passed with Commendation as well. Most of time in my life until now is for studying and learning. I worked as an engineer and consultant for Oriental Consultant, a Japanese company has office in Hanoi Vietnam, for 7 months between my break time of MSc and starting my PhD. From early time in my high school, i used to help my friends and other younger with their study.

Discuss the approach adopted by Lehrer-McGovern International (LMI) to managing the project of the tower building (No. 1 Canada Square).

According to Meredith and Mantel (2007), project selection is the process of evaluating individual projects or groups of projects, and then choosing to implement them so that the objectives of the parent organisation will be achieved. They indicate that when a firm chooses a project selection model, the following criteria are most important:

Realism: The model should reflect the reality of the manager’s decision situation, including the multiple objectives of both the firm and its managers. The model should also include factors that reflect project risks, including the technical risks or performance, cost and time, as well as the market risks of customer rejection and other implementation risks.

Capability: The model should be sophisticated enough to deal with multiple time periods, simulate various situations both internal and external to the project and optimise the decision. An optimising model will make the comparisons that management deems important, consider major risks and constraints on the projects and then select the best overall project or set of projects.

Flexibility: The model should give valid results within the range of conditions that the firm might experience. It should have the ability to be easily modified, or to be self-adjusting in response to changes in the firm’s environment.

Ease of use: The model should be reasonably convenient, not take a long time to execute and be easy to use and understand. It should not require special interpretation, data that is difficult to acquire, excessive personnel or unavailable equipment.

Cost: Data-gathering and modelling costs should be low cost, relative to the cost of the project, and must surely be less than the potential benefits of the projects. All costs should be considered, including the costs of data management and of running the model.

Looking at Canary Wharf, especially the tower building, it is easy to assume that LMI used variables of selected models, and all of the above models, in managing this project, and the result was fantastic. It can be said that the approach adopted by LMI brought the project to success. In this case, the approach adopted by LMI for managing the project of the tower building is construction management approach.

Firstly, according to Redout (1991), LMI understood the differing attitudes and approaches taken by North American developers, while the Bovis – owner of LMI – connection gave access to a vast directory of subcontractors as well as bringing on board a UK firm in construction management and management contracting. Orders were placed around the world for suppliers and subcontractors. LMI’s approach was slightly different from British management contractors, because they did not use the management contracting approach totally. This was very popular in the UK at that time.

In addition, the US project manager showed ability in dividing tasks for subcontractors. As Redout (1991) reported, Canada’s second largest contractor, Ellis-Don, was invited over by O&Y to team up with a British management contractor, even though in early 1990, LMI took over as construction manager of the tower and relegated Ellis-Don from the role of management contractor to that of concrete contractor. Besides, there were many other contractors and subcontractors working on the project. As reported, there were nearly 3,200 firms attended at the project.

The effective use and manipulation of the managing models successfully brought phase one in on time and on budget (Redout, 1991). This statement was demonstrated by practice, and it was repeated many times by Richard Griffith, vice-president of O&Y. He claimed that his organisation and his partners were very familiar with every new market, and they would be fast to adapt in that market. This proved to be a great advantage and helped accelerate the project towards completion with an almost perfect outcome.

Moreover, one of the most important factors that contributed to the success of the approach adopted by LMI was the way they used their human resources effectively and flexibly. LMI knew how to deal with their subcontractors, how to encourage them and how to keep them working on schedule with rewards and policies. For example, contractors that adapted easily in the early days of the project have been rewarded with repeat business (Ridout, 1991).

Or as Griffith puts it: “You dance with them that brung yer! Loyalties build up. We have found a lot of good contractors and we will continue to do business with them. And don’t fool yourself into thinking that it is only price that drives us. Good contractors with slightly higher prices kept jobs with us” (Redout, 1991 p.10). Additionally, Rehkopf, chairman of LMI, said one of the major achievements was that they put together one of the best construction teams in the world in term of size, scope and capability.

According to Redout (1991), part of the success can be attributed to the breaking down of corporate cultures and identities; in Rehkopf’s words, that “there is no longer an LMI culture or an O&Y culture, it is Canary Wharf culture”. Bringing everybody together to work smoothly on the same project is not always easy. In fact, it is a very difficult and complicated task. To some extent, it could be viewed as total quality management.

The most important factor that contributed to the successful managing of the project was LMI’s strategy and decision-making, particularly in strategic alliances with other big contractors. With this event, LMI divided its works to other contractors and partners, who were experts and specialised in each task. This helped them complete the project quickly and to budget. Moreover, as Griffiths said, he understood the strengths and weaknesses of organisations and individuals, and supported the weaknesses where partners need to and exploit the strengths (Ridout, 1991).

In project management, not only do factors such as technology, standards, objectives and strategy play important roles, but design also has a great impact on the project’s quality and utility. According to Pawley (1991), One Canada Square was characteristic of any space-optimised structure that gains from rationalisation and repetition, but loses from predictability and sameness. In fact, there would be no public viewing platform at One Canada Square, even though a visitor could happily spend a day wandering around the parapet at the foot of the pyramid identifying landmarks in all directions. Furthermore, at that time, One Canada Square was a symbol of London, like a trade centre in the UK particularly, and in the world generally. Pawley (1991) said it is the most awe-inspiring piece of modern architecture built in the twentieth century.

At that time, One Canada Square was considered a revolution in construction. For example, when comparing it to the NatWest Tower, they cost the same price, however One Canada Square is 62M higher, has four times the floor area and took a third of the time to build (Bill, 1991).

In the 1990s, IT was not really popular, especially in the construction field. However, contractors who built the tower had used the Primavera planning software to help. It can be said that complicated and sophisticated models of project management utilised by LMI in every dimension and criteria greatly contributed to the construction of One Canada Square. LMI knew how to get the best from partners/contractors/subcontractors, put tasks into practice and reality from extreme design, predict cost and time schedules accurately, deal with multiple phases of construction and deliver the project to success.

Question 2: “The real Canary Wharf success story has been the logistics behind the construction.” Discuss the above statement.

According to Ridout (1991), constructing Canary Wharf was a formidable task as it meant building that much, that quick on a peninsula formed by a giant loop of the Thames. Road access was a nightmare. The A13 to the north was gridlocked almost continuously by traffic crawling in and out of central London. Traffic from the south ran the gauntlet of the overloaded Blackwall Tunnel. There was plenty evidence that the road system would grind to a near halt under the strain of the hundreds of truck movements required each day to build Europe’s largest commercial development. The solution was an obvious one – to revive the docks and use barges to ferry materials in and out.
Ridout (1991) reported at that time the flotilla of up to eighty barges summoned by O&Y had moved somewhere in the order of one million tonnes of construction materials on to and waste materials off the wharf. Going out were the dump and bottom-dump barges taking 200,000 m3 of material excavated for foundations for the tower, retail areas and the underground car parks and service roads, together with general builders’ waste.

Looking at the above information, it is clear to see how difficult the task was. In a construction project, one of the most important phases is bring everything from design into practice, especially using materials and human resources to build up. In this case, if the logistic of resources and materials meet troubles, it might cause the project over-run and cost more money to resolve. Canary Wharf’s problems are not an exception.

However, O&Y project executive Dan Frank had the unenviable task of overseeing the barge movements and telling the management contractors who gets what and when. Frank and his team did it well, and they were responsible for piecing together the other parts of the logistics jigsaw – such as deciding who gets priority for concrete deliveries and overseeing access across the site and over the temporary water roads, down to the mundane but necessary jobs like providing office accommodation, canteens and drying room facilities (Ridout, 1991).

At the peak of construction, the on-site staff and workforce neared 4,500, and so the organisation and control of more than 500 barge movements a month was a combination of human and computer effort. Decisions taken on site were entered into the computers and beamed down telephone lines to PCs at Tilbury Docks, where O&Y set aside six ha for the storage and assembling of materials. Frank’s team worked out as detailed a schedule as possible for the number of barge movements expected to be needed each month as various operations got under way on the eight major buildings (Ridout, 1991).

Ridout (1991) reported, once construction started, barge movements were planned after management contractors’ requirements for the week ahead were received. There were many and frequent logistic meetings, and everyone came together to go through their programme. If there were difficulties, Frank and his team would first suggest, then request and, if need be, finally impose changes to their delivery schedules. Once delivery to site was made, contractors were allowed 24 hours to offload, otherwise they had to pay demurrage.

Above all, with many difficulties in accessing the construction site, controlling the delivery of materials and scheduling for management contractors, it is true to say that the real Canary Wharf story has been the logistics behind the construction. Without the brilliant work of planning and preparing, the project would have never succeeded, and could have taken more time and more money to complete. In addition, during the construction phase, the arising problems were resolved very quickly and effectively. All of these problems involved logistics and few of them not. Hence, the logistics management brought this project to success.

Question 4: Identify and discuss the main management problems for the infrastructure development at the Canary Wharf and explain how these were resolved.

At the beginning of Ridout’s report (1991), he claims that although the tower has become the symbol of Canary Wharf, it is not the most expensive construction job on the project. That honour goes to the infrastructure package of roads, car parks and 11,700 m3 of retail space running down the spine of the wharf. In addition, during the construction phase, there were many management problems which took the price higher, and took longer to finish.

The first problem was the price of the package –an indication could be gained from the fact that it had cost twice as much as the 60,700 m3 net let table FC2 building, and that suggested a price tag nearing £200m. Nevertheless, every management contractor on the wharf also had to pass through (Ridout, 1991). They worked closely with each other and co-operated very well, in both construction and finance. This is why the first problem was resolved quickly and effectively.

The next problem, and also the most serious problem, which caused many management contractors troubles and issues, was site access. Before temporary water roads opened up around the thirty ha site, it was very difficult to deliver materials to the construction site. As project executive Ron Davie said “the original plan for the job was that the water roads would take all the construction traffic. But before those could be put in, all of the piling and concrete decks for the buildings where they span over the water had to be completed and the floating piling rigs moved out of the way.” (Ridout:1991 p32).

The main access problems were that Bovis’s site at the western end of the wharf was the only way in or out, except for the materials coming by barge. The access pinch point was all the tighter because it sat at the interface between the wharf and the giant £70m, 145m diameter, two-level Westferry Circus roundabout being built by Canary Wharf contractors (Ridout, 1991).

According to Ridout (1991), for three months prior to moving on site, Bovis planned and prepared access route drawings charting how traffic would move around the wharf without inhibiting the construction of 600,000 m3 of buildings. This plan showed where and when each of the access routes would be opened or blocked. In this case, it can be seen that the solution came out in time to resolve the problems. Because the wharf is located in one of the most crowded places in London, where traffic jams happen every day, and is very difficult to access, a well prepared plan for the access routes helped vehicles get in and out easier, and supported the construction 24 hours per day during the whole construction phase, despite the obstacles of weather and outer-traffic.

Lansdell, the Bovis divisional director charged with solving the access problems, came close to understand the complexities of catering for the needs of the other management contractors. He progressed the north roadway as fast as possible up to one level, put in the sewers, covered it with a temporary surface, and then transfered all the east-west traffic to the north side. That meant he and his team could construct the south road up to finish at the top of the north side (Ridout, 1991). The finished level of the roadway was about five metres above the old level of Canary Wharf. Foamed concrete, supplied from a barge by Dutch firm Voton, was used as fill material between old and new levels.

Furthermore, in the early days before the work started, there had been an idea of putting more and more car parks over the Docklands Light Railway. One of the problems came out that the buildings were stuck up in the air, and did not relate to one of the major assets of Canary Wharf – the water. However, when O&Y took over the project, it simplified the design considerably by lowering the height of the road network to allow the buildings to relate to the water (Ridout, 1991). The problem was resolved quickly, because O&Y created a two-level road system. The main spine road ran five metres above the old quay. Beneath it were the roads that gave access to the subterranean five-storeys car-parking areas or for service vehicles calling at the eight buildings (Ridout, 1991).

On the other hand, before steel piles were bored and concreted into the foundation, problems occurred with how these piles would be designed and take enormous loads of the 12 to 20 storeys buildings that sit out over the docks. According to Ridout (1991), virtually all of the footprints of the buildings, FC1 to FC6, are over water with just a strip a few metres wide over terra firma on the quay. Two types of piles had therefore been used. In this case, the design of the landside piles was equally innovative. These were base-grouted bored piles also founded in the Thanet sands. Grout was pumped at a pressure of at least 30 bars down tubes fixed to the reinforcement cage. The pressurised grout exuded out around the base of the pile to fill any interstices in the Thanet sands, preventing any settlement problems.

For the infrastructure development at the Canary Wharf, the main problems management contractors met during construction have been presented above, with the solutions to resolve each of them. In fact, all of these problems originated from site-access, because of the difficulties in delivering and laying out materials on site. However, with brilliant work from planners and decision makers, these problems were resolved in a very short time and proved to be effective.
Question 7: Identify and describe the characteristics and features of the “Canary Wharf Culture” and explain why it was necessary for this project.

Firstly, as aforementioned in the previous question, according to Redout (1991), part of the success can be attributed to the breaking down of corporate cultures and identities; for Rehkopf’s words, that “there is no longer an LMI culture or an O&Y culture, it is Canary Wharf culture.” The Canary Wharf Culture helped the project to finish on time and on budget.

As Redout (1991) claims, this project was considered a lion, and every firm wanted the lion’s share. Another very important factor that contributed to the Canary Wharf Culture is the way O&Y used their human resources. To some extent, it is considered one of the most important factors that brought the project to success.

In this case, the Canary Wharf Culture could be regarded as a football team, where everybody comes from different countries to join it but they all contribute to the same target of the club –victory. Contractors, subcontractors, workers and everybody who worked for this project could be considered the same as these football players, and they devoted their ability and strength to the project.

In fact, it is a perfect use of human resources to create the Canary Wharf Culture. The project was conducted in the UK, however contractors from all over the world were able to bid for work. The reason is very simple – the best contractors came from many different places, not jyst Britain. They could support the same (or even better) services, the same prices (or even lower) as the British contractors, and the most important thing is they were more familiar with the project requirements and more competitive than the British as a report by Ridout (1991) pointed out.

This is what happened, and the result can be seen in the feature of Canary Wharf. For example, One Canada Square and some of the other buildings were designed and engineered by different architects, structural engineers, services engineers and mechanical engineers, accompanied with different management contractors and specialist consultants. Some of them came from the UK, and the rest came from all over the world. For this event, every building got its own feature, facility, health and safety and characteristic. However, the amazing and fascinating thing is they are all suited and match each other perfectly wherever a person stands among these buildings. From a high-view, he can see a wonderful picture of the Wharf.

On the other hand, according to Ridout (1991), language in this case is not a problem. It can be explained easily, because like a football team, when the best players come and use their brilliant skills, co-operate with the others and practice and do everyday, language is not a barrier anymore.

In addition, , Ridout (1991) reported that nowhere is O&Y’s multinational procurement policy more apparent than in the cladding. For instance, FC1 is from Belgian precaster Loveld; next door at FC2 is fellow Belgian precaster Partek Egon; FC3 went to Italian company Permasteelisa; FC4 to Canadian firm Artex; Germany’s Philip Holzmann clad FC6; DS7 was masterminded by the Canadian at Antamex with Scottish and English input on installation and fabrication; and in the RT1 retail area, Germans Fischer Glass, GIG and Bonnel worked on the dome, the glazing and the cladding alongside New York-based Miller Druck, who were the stonemasons.

The above examples are features and characteristics of the Canary Wharf Culture., as the consequences of this Culture appear everywhere inside the Wharf and at any angle from any corner when taking a look at it. O&Y did a brilliant job when putting everybody together, conducting the project smoothly and effectively and creating the Canary Wharf Culture. Due to the perfect use of human resources, O&Y created a friendly, open and co-operative place, in which people who had different backgrounds, regions, mentalities, traditions, attitudes and standards gathered and did their best to create a masterpiece in London. In this case, issues like confliction in language, culture, tradition and knowledge were overcome and had no adverse impacts on the project. The only thing left is the Canary Wharf Culture, which was necessary for this project and brought it to success.

Question 6: Building engineering services designers adopted innovative approaches for some services but not for other services at the Canary Wharf tower. Explain, with examples, the bases upon which such decisions were made.

In the building services of Canary Wharf, there are four main tasks: fire engineering, proper air-conditioning, high-speed lifts and electrics. Some of them were adopted by innovative approaches, some of them were not. The reasons are not difficult to point out, however, the general reason is contractors had used their own way to build up the project, and changed the UK building services scene.

For the first task – fire engineering – designers had developed and devised the original fire engineering strategy. It can be said that this approach is impressive and innovative. The whole safety system is automatic and served by its own dedicated fire-rated cabling. Each safety device is controlled by a specially designed central computer system housed in an aptly named fire command centre in the basement (Chevin 1991). As Treliving – a former senior London Fire Brigade officer, now employed as life safety officer for Canary Wharf Management – comments: “The British Standard was not written for high-rise buildings. We had to make the British Standard fit the buildings rather than the other way round. This has been achieved by implementing a whole package of fire defence mechanisms that enabled us to install standard staircases and means of escape.” (Chevin 1991, p91)

The Canary Wharf was considered the Britain’s tallest building, that’s why John Pagano – O&Y’s building services co-ordinator – thought it should be one of its safest. Rather than attempt to design the buildings with adequately spaced exits to get everyone out in a few minutes, all have been structured so that they are safe enough to evacuate people floor by floor. According to Chevin (1991), O&Y’s approach looks like filtering into other large developments, Pagano comments about the fire safety: “Overall we paid a premium. But our commitment to life safety is more of an ideology than other people’s.”

In this situation, the innovative approach was adopted because from the top management of the project, the owners and developers wanted to impose something new and outstanding from any previous big building, which is why the the decision was made.

For the next task – air-conditioning – there was no change to build up or apply new innovative approaches, even as Chevin (1991) reported, the tower was being equipped with mechanical services, and the equipment itself included a deluxe type of air-conditioning not widely used in Britain. Pagano says: “We tend not to be innovators in terms of HVAC technology. What we do is to take tried-and-tested systems and try and improve on them.” (Chevin 1991, p92)

A Canadian consultant and contractor took the key roles in the design and installation of this task. Don Cruikshank – director of mechanical services consultant TMP-DSSR – explained the decision to use the refrigerant in building up the air-conditioning system: “At the time we bought the equipment, there was not enough research done on alternative refrigerants to give us sufficient confidence. It is better to work with what you know.” (Chevin 1991, p92).

In this case, the decision-making was based on knowledge and experience of a familiar skill and technique. The Canadian contractor wanted to ensure everything would be okay, and there would not be any risk or impact on the system. Hence, there was no innovative approach adopted in this task.

For the engineering service of high-speed lifts, designers adopted a new modern technology to build it up. According to Chevin (1991), it takes just forty-six seconds from stepping into a lift in the concourse to stepping out on the top floor. At speeds of six m/sec for the fastest twelve lifts, it is very fast. The tower is the first UK building to use jump lift technology, which allows the lift to be used even as the shaft is being built. One of the goods lifts was built in this way, so it could transport materials.

The reason this new technology was adopted was because, according to Chevin (1991), the jump lift shaft is installed section by section to keep up with the structural steel and is fitted with its own temporary machine room. Normally this machinery is removed once the lift shaft reaches its full height. However, for the tower, Otis took the concept one stage further by designing the thirty tonnes of lifting machinery for permanent use.

For the last task of engineering services – electrics – designers did not use something special to install, however they focused on the quality and durability of the system. According to Coomber (1991), John Pagano claims that the key tenets of the tower’s electrical design have been providing power as flexibly and reliably as possible.

However, the most important thing is electrical designers wanted to make sure the building would remain capable of supplying all tenants’ power needs well into the twenty-first century. Therefore, they used a very strong, powerful and flexible system that could be easily upgraded and changed to suit usage in the future. In addition, because of the very fast developments in technology, designers used the best, which could also be made better.

Reference:

Bill, P. (1991) “The New Tower of London – The Tower”, A Builder Group Publication, October 1991, Builder House: London, p 18-20.
Coomber, M. (1991) “Electrics – Building Services”, A Builder Group Publication, October 1991, Builder House: London, p 94.

Chevin, D. (1991) “Fire Engineering, Air-Conditioning, Lifts – Building Services”, A Builder Group Publication, October 1991, Builder House: London, p 91-93.

Meredit, R, J. and Mantel, J, S. (2007) “Project Management: A managerial approach”, New York: Chichester, Willey.

Ridout, G. (1991) “Panel beaters – Cladding, Spinal Accord – Infrastructure, Prime mover – Logistics, The Wharffingers”, A Builder Group Publication, October 1991, Builder House: London, p 8-10, p 24-29, p 30-34, p 82.

Pawley, M. (1991) “The New Tower of London – The Tower”, A Builder Group Publication, October 1991, Builder House: London, p 14-16.