Cell Biology Building,
The University of Warwick

Client: The University of Warwick
Contract Value: £4.6m
Programme: 71 weeks
Completion Date: February 2012
Form of Contract: JCT Design & Build 2005
Contracts Manager: Brendan Rourke
Quantity Surveyor: Steve Smith
Site Manager: Kevin Hudson
Architect: Boswell, Mitchell & Johnston
PQS: Turner Townsend
Engineer: Shire Consulting

Stepnell were awarded the contract to build the new Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology (CMCB) at Warwick Medical School, forming part of the newly-formed West Midlands Science City Research Alliance.

The tender for the CMCB was around £500k above budget and savings needed to be made on the original design whilst not affecting the quality and function of the building. The largest saving was made by replacing a ground air heat exchange system with solar PV’s, which will displace a similar amount of CO2.

The mechanical and electrical systems were reviewed to reduce cost without impacting the safety of the systems or comfort in the building. Envelope materials were reviewed to reduce cost further without impacting the visual aspect of the building. For example, louvres with blanking behind were replaced with solid cladding to the same profile.

Over 100 different items were considered in the value engineering process and only those that did not impact on the form or function of the building were developed into the final design.

On top of cost issues, it was necessary to divert a road and existing services before construction could commence.

The final building is of steel frame construction with brickwork cladding, extensive curtain walling and brise soleil. There is an extensive services installation which provides close control of ventilation in laboratory areas, necessary for the sensitive biological research that will be conducted within. The main feature of the façade is the brise soleil which was purpose designed and manufactured for the project.

In addition to the many laboratory facilities, the various spaces inside the building include a clean room, dark room, freezer room, cold room, cryostore and an autoclave room.

Stepnell regularly communicated information regarding the project to occupants of the adjacent buildings. This communication took the form of ‘Good Neighbour’ meetings which were a key factor in the excellent relationship Stepnell had with them.

“The new Mechanochemical Cell Biology Building achieves two ambitious targets that are a huge challenge to hit at the same time: its facilities are top of the range, allowing for cutting edge research, but it also meets Warwick’s high standards on environmental sustainability.”

Bob Wilson, Director of Estates & Head of Planning & Development. The University of Warwick

Key Features

  • BREEAM Excellent
  • Rooftop photovoltaic installation
  • Extensive curtain walling
  • Purpose designed brise soleil
  • Community engagement in the form of ‘Good Neighbour’ meetings
  • ‘Highly Commended’ at the NFB Awards 2012orking within a live school environment