Work on City House in Leeds is now well and truly underway. Having been on-site since October 2015, we spoke to the Head of Building and Construction for Leeds, Nathan Green to find out what plans have been made for the redevelopment and what changes are already taking place.
Prominently situated on the top of Leeds train station, the location of City House will be ideal for future customers, however, it currently poses a lot of challenges when it comes to the redevelopment of the building. As the third busiest station outside of London, footfall around Leeds train station is tremendously high and so providing access to the site required some creative thinking. “Ultimately, our top priority is a safe working environment so we had to think of ways to access the site while not interfering with the train station and the people using it on a daily basis. To meet this requirement we made sure that we hired the right team and spent enough time planning the works,” explains Nathan.
Due to its placement above the train station, City House actually only touches the ground in three places. “It’s an elevated building meaning street level access is limited, with construction deliveries being extremely restricted. Added to the fact that New Station Street provides bus lanes, taxi ranks, British Transport Police offices and delivery for Station retail units, accessing the project via the front door was not going to be viable,” says Nathan.
“We decided to create an opening through the street directly into the basement of City House and install a hoist going up the side of the building,” explains Nathan. All of the materials have to be taken to the different areas of the building via the hoist and the construction team has to make sure they programme the work carefully, reserving slots to bring their supplies to the correct area of the development. And that’s not an easy feat considering there is 154,000 sq ft gross internal area of space to be refurbished. Once the hoist is removed we will install a new permanent lift using the same opening, providing access directly from the basement into the building.
Another interesting challenge of the project is that the street that City House is located on is actually a bridge spanning one of the main routes into Leeds. This meant that fully scaffolding the building was not possible due to loading restrictions, so alternative ways of taking down the facade had to be explored. One benefit of this is that the public can see the building change as the project moves along, whereas with scaffolding it would typically be unveiled upon completion.
And here’s what you can see so far. “The main work that has taken place is the demolition of the facade, followed by the installation of floor to ceiling windows which can be seen from street level. Inside the building, the team have commenced with the Mechanical and Electrical works to provide fully-conditioned space in the office suites,” says Nathan. “Later in the year, as the elevations approach completion, we will continue with the internal finishes, progressing through the building”.
The building has been designed and constructed to promote sustainability. “What’s more sustainable than refurbishing an empty building?” says Nathan. However, the building will be almost unrecognisable when completed as, although the frame and floors are being retained, all other elements are renewed to modern standards. When completed, the suites will have an EPC rating of A and the building will have a BREEAM excellent rating. Customers can expect to benefit from high specification office accommodation including LED lighting, showers, cycle facilities and basement parking with electric car charging points.
At roof level, there is already a lot of work taking place in preparation of the roof garden works. “The existing concrete walkway that was elevated above the roof has been 50% demolished and once this process is complete we will install the plant deck and recover the roof surface. Then we can begin with the roof garden, which once complete will offer unrivalled views across the city,” explains Nathan.
The redevelopment is set to take 84 weeks and after over six months on-site the project remains track. With a completion date of the end of May 2017, the building will be a new platform for Leeds and is set to be one of the most modern workspaces in the city.