Keeping construction going safely during a pandemic.
Construction during a pandemic must be handled carefully, but arguably still more important to communities in the long term is the provision of well-crafted public space and amenity for exercise, social interaction and community events. This is what this project is all about: creating a multi-functional and robust space that is community focussed and acts to improve the lives of those that use it.
The works at West Side Plaza need further careful planning, however, as the site remains live during construction. Thus all shop, office and other building accesses must remain accessible; the plaza must be traversable by pedestrians and delivery vehicles; other issues such as noise and dust from the construction activities also need to be managed. Not an easy thing, when everyone has to socially distance and then the plaza is already a busy hub for the community!
Travel to and from is also challenging as public transport use is discouraged, though the project also seeks to improve the quality of the existing active travel links, making both cycling and walking more comfortable and safer. Our hope is that the project will also help support those who use the site through this difficult time.
My role has been to assist my colleagues to deliver the construction phase of the project, liaising with the Quantity Surveyor, client and contractor to manage the day-to-day running of the site and the queries that inevitably arise once a spade goes into the ground… But then, this can often be one of the most rewarding parts of a project, as a design rises from the ground and long-held project objective and design ideas come to fruition.
Ollie Phillips, Architectural Assistant, writes
Westside Plaza is the first major project I have been involved in at HarrisonStevens in which I have developed the design for tender and final consultation with the community, and then for construction. Now the project is on-site having started in August I get the opportunity to see those drawings, those details, those puzzles come to life.
The site is complex to run as it forms part of a busy community Plaza in which multiple offices and shops are operating. This makes the site a jigsaw of moving parts as the contractors try to build around people and services. To make matters more complex we have Covid-19 and the constant threat of this impacting site in the worst way and shutting it down. Meetings are predominantly forced online but when we can make it out to the site for a distanced walk around we do. This is the most valuable experience, especially attending with my colleague Liz, a Senior Landscape Architect who brings her wealth of experience to the little snags and surprises that reveal themselves as the demolition works continue and the site is prepared for new surfacing, landscaping and play areas. The nature of how the site operates means we often need to be quick on our feet and make decisions to ensure the program runs smoothly which can be challenging.
This blog post has been written by two of our team Liz and Ollie. They each offer their opinion of site visits during a global pandemic and their individual roles in the Westside Plaza project.