How we are keeping construction of the new Extreme Photonics Application Centre on schedule

The Harwell Science & Innovation Campus is an internationally recognised campus hosting major research bodies including the UK Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA), Diamond Light Source and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

The latter is a key component of the UK Research & Innovation, which carries out research in science and engineering and similarly, funds research in areas including particle physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy.

What is the project?

In the 2019 spring statement, The Chancellor of the Exchequer allocated £81 million to an Extreme Photonics Application Centre (EPAC) in Oxfordshire. The centre, based at the Harwell Campus, will help researchers and industry better understand the composition of new materials and how they behave in different conditions.

Once operational, EPAC will be a national centre within which the development of a diverse range of disruptive imaging techniques can occur, leading to new and innovative real-world applications.

What is our role?

In October 2018, both ETL and the client’s preferred contractor were appointed by STFC as a new professional team to validate the previously approved design, proceed through RIBA Stages 3 /4 and into second stage procurement.

What value have we added?

To de-risk the schedule and enable the second stage design and pricing activities to proceed in parallel with early construction activities, we worked collaboratively with the Contractor to develop an advanced programme of works. These included re-routing of services to an adjacent telecommunications mast, foul drainage relocations, asbestos removal/ demolition of an existing building and the construction of a sample panel to demonstrate the effectiveness of measures to control thermal cracking, cast in accessories and services quality control.

Whilst providing dual project management services to STFC from both a client-side and consultant perspective, as STFC’s cost advisor we also worked closely with the Contractor to assure the design was developed within its affordability envelope.

Overall, ETL provided strong leadership and clear communication to both development of the technical design and progression of the second stage procurement processes, mitigating programme pressures and establishing a framework to assure project delivery meets the business case objectives.

As a reflection of the positive relationships developed pre-construction, our appointment has been extended into the construction phase of the works; as NEC3 ECC Project Manager, Cost Manager and NEC Supervisor. More recently, ETL’s role has also expanded to include the CLF Engineering & Technology (ETC) building; a sister facility to provide essential engineering services for EPAC.

What’s the progress?

Construction commenced in January 2020 and, notwithstanding the challenges borne by the COVID-19 pandemic, is currently progressing ahead of schedule.