News - John Neill - CMYA 2017

John Neill takes gold at construction manager of the year awards

John’s excellent work on the widely-acclaimed Remembrance Centre at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire saw him win the Public Infrastructure & Healthcare category of the awards which are organised by the Chartered Institute of Building. John is based at Stepnell’s national head office in Lawford Road, Rugby.

John received his award presented by BBC Breakfast’s Steph McGovern, at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel where he was one of only nine gold medal winners out of 85 finalists from across the UK. The RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) award-winning £15.7 million Remembrance Centre, which opened in October 2016, provides enhanced and expanded facilities for the growing number of visitors to the Arboretum, the UK’s national focus for remembrance. 

Construction director Bill Haynes says: “We’re absolutely delighted to see John’s superb management of this demanding and significant project recognised by his success at the Construction Manager of the Year Awards. His gold medal is fully deserved and underlines the scale of his achievement and importance of his contribution to the success of the finished building.”

John Neill says:  “I feel very honoured to have been recognised in the Construction Manager of the Year Awards for my role in helping deliver the new Remembrance and Learning Centre. The gold medal is a testimony to the expertise and hard work of the entire construction team and adds to the enormous pride we all share at having worked on this iconic project.”

Challenges met by John included managing the tight 50-week construction programme so that the building was completed ready for the 2016 Armistice Day ceremonies and events. He also devised a number of solutions to streamline the build process to deliver significant cost and time savings.  As well as ensuring that every aspect of the build achieved the very highest quality standards, John and his team enabled the existing facilities to stay fully operational for the National Memorial Arboretum’s staff and 300,000 annual visitors during the construction programme.

Designed by Glenn Howells Architects, the new Remembrance Centre building has successfully brought together an existing chapel, former visitor centre and external spaces and gardens. The building features a dramatic drum-shaped rotunda audio visual theatre space, an interpretation exhibition, a large restaurant, a welcome and orientation area and a learning centre. It has a limestone façade – echoing the Portland stone of the nearby Armed Forces Memorial - while a timber colonnade links it to the Arboretum’s original visitor centre which has been retained and extended. The Centre also includes a timber portico and slatted timber cloisters. Heroes’ Square, a central courtyard space, has been created within the cloisters and provides a formal square for set-piece ceremonies. A landscaped garden leads into the wider Arboretum where there are over 30,000 maturing trees and over 330 memorials. The centre has already received a number of accolades, including the Regional Award and the Building of the Year title at the RIBA West Midlands regional awards in recognition of its architectural excellence.  The project was also recognised by the RICS Awards for the West Midlands - which celebrate the region’s most outstanding construction developments – taking the top awards in the Community Benefit and Tourism & Leisure categories. 

Photo supplied courtesy of the CIOB: L-R Murray Scott, IHS Markit (award sponsor), John Neill, Steph McGovern