4th June 2020

The Joys of Old Buildings

After a few weeks of communicating with the site team by telephone and video link, another essential reason to visit site arises – to show the officers from Rugby Borough Council some of the physical samples required under our Listed Building Consent.

This raises the challenge of how to achieve a socially distanced inspection, solved by placing the samples and their documentation within the wide open spaces of the newly-asphalted western car park and the planning officers driving directly to them. We then walk them around the edge of the site to inspect the mock-up for the Transmission Block’s new top floor rainscreen cladding, mounted on the building, so they can see it against the sky and the historic brickwork.

Walking past the Power Hall we see that both its steel frames are now almost complete, with decking being installed. The narrow southern frame will support the air handing plant, control room and bleacher seating for the School’s Assembly Hall, and divide it from the adjacent Dining Hall.

Having shown the planners the samples, and answered their queries, the rest of the day is taken up with discussions with the various site teams, starting with the masons who are progressing with the repair and repointing of the Power hall west façade. With Concrete Renovations supervisor we decide that the extent of repointing to the parapet lift needs to be increased slightly, but otherwise the works seems to be progressing well, including the various mortar repairs specified for isolated holes in individual bricks (a trial example is just below the 16 label).

Elsewhere we discuss what to do with the repairs to the Admin Wing South elevation, where removal of the window reveals that there is literally nothing under it, with a large void between the inner blockwork, now removed, and a ½ brick outer skin….

The next stop is at the top of the Transmission Hall to discuss the complex details where the historic parapet will join the new lightweight walls of our new floor at the top of the Transmission Block. The 1943 slab has now been completely removed, exposing a series of unforeseen quirks in the 1943 brickwork, including a curious section cavity at the wall head extending the whole length of each long elevation.

This discovery requires changes to the steel frame and its connections, the proposed alterations to the historic brickwork, new precast copings and all the associated waterproofing and air tightness details. The steelwork is firmly on the critical path, so their resolution is a matter of urgency and we discuss the solutions and setting out with Morgan Sindall and MQM until a way forward is clear, and then work with Price and Myers to update and reissue our respective drawings.

Late in the day another milestone is passed, with Mifflin, the steel fabricators for the new blocks, erecting the first of their frames’ columns, and fixing it over the thermal break pads already installed on the foundation holding down bolts.