James Pellatt, Great Portland Estates

30 Broadwick Street, a 92,300-square-foot office and retail development situated in the heart of Soho in London. BAM Construct UK.

James Pellatt is Head of Projects at Great Portland Estates. BAM was appointed to deliver 30 Broadwick Street, a 92,300-square-foot office and retail development situated in the heart of Soho in London, surrounded by thriving restaurants and bars.  

What is he added value of open collaboration in the construction industry?
‘To me the biggest barrier to innovation, productivity and collaboration in the construction industry is the dominance of blame culture. Too many clients create a culture of fear that trickles down to the main contractor and supply chain, leading to poorer outcomes all round. The added value of open collaboration is simply that creating an environment in which people are willing to come forward with good ideas allows all parties to improve their respective outcomes.’

Can you give an example?
‘The way in which we have enhanced the digitalisation of the supply chain through the use of BIM has always been non-contractual. As a result we have been able to provide co-ordinated drawings in 2D without recourse to having to rely on the 3D model in contract. In turn this allowed BAM the freedom to develop the digital co-ordination in terms of delivery but also now in terms of 6D operation in the facilities management of 30 Broadwick Street. I doubt that this would have happened if we wanted contractual outcomes from the outset. We have a key set of performance criteria in place now, but only after we worked out how to deliver it in the first place.’

How can we learn from each other?
‘By learning to listen, and I mean genuinely listen. Be brave enough to say ‘I’m sorry but I don't understand what it is you are asking of me.
We as clients can often assume that people know what we want them to do. I don't believe that to be the case and the more time we take to explain the economic drivers then the more value you can add as a contractor. For example, a greater floor-to-ceiling height is often more important to the end value of a building for a client than the cost of steel. How many times do clients hear from contractors though that  ‘the building weighs too much – cut out the tonnage’? But if they understood our value drivers better they could come up with better options for increasing the floor to ceiling height even if it meant us spending a bit more on steel.’

What are the benefits of digitalisation for the construction industry?
‘It creates transparency and reduces tension. Too often in projects where we are not working in a digital environment, the design is not co-ordinated. This doesn't happen in a digital environment, as people are more likely to solve problems when presented with them visually. Also design teams are no longer capable of fully designing a building. A digitised model that builds accuracy over time from many different people, architect, engineer, main contractor and trade contractor has more and more benefit.’

What is the benefit of digitalisation for your organisation?
‘For every £1 we have invested in designing the model, we have earned at least £3 back. The economics make sense. But, for me, it is also as much to do with culture of transparency, honesty and accuracy. The investment we made at 30 Broadwick Street has led to a first-class award-winning building, one in which teamwork was a genuinely important part of delivery.’

How does your organisation contribute to a sustainable future?
‘We take sustainability very seriously. Responsible business has sustainability at its core. Managing and balancing the needs of our occupiers, investors and the communities in which we work is key to maintaining the long-term value of the business. Sustainable buildings are more attractive to occupiers, cost less to run and are less likely to become obsolete, enhancing the long term value of our property portfolio. Our Sustainable Development Brief sets out our aspirations for each step of the design process in respect of energy, water, waste, materials sourcing, transport, ecology, occupiers, community, emissions, wellbeing and supply chain. Our Sustainability Tracker helps us monitor progress against the brief throughout the development.’

How can BAM assist you?
‘BAM already has! At 30 Broadwick Street BAM has helped us to create our most sustainable development to date, an EPC rating of A which is BREEAM excellent and fully FSC accredited.’