Skanska and JRA Moorgate Refurbishment

Working with client and lead refurbishment contractor Skanska UK, John Robertson Architects has been chosen to redevelop a City of London office building at 51 Moorgate.

Refurbishment Design with Well-being in Mind

Once refurbished, the building will provide 3,000 square feet of ground-level retail space, and a total of 40,000 square feet of office space, over eight levels. It’s planned that the completed build will be available for occupancy in Autumn 2019. Skanska UK will itself occupy three floors of the building, while the remaining space will be available for new office and retail tenants.

The refurbishment of 51 Moorgate is set to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’
The refurbishment of 51 Moorgate is set to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’

Skanska UK is known for its focus on projects that improve the urban environment, by improving energy-efficiency and sustainability, and enhancing the well-being of tenants and occupants. In the UK, the contractor is best-known for projects such as the Gherkin, a now-iconic London skyscraper, and The Monument Building, another particularly striking design.

Moorgate is set to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and the floors occupied by Skanska will be certified to the WELL Building Standard, which will help to create a sustainable and healthy work environment for occupiers, now and in the future.

The design team is led by John Robertson Architects (JRA), the award-winning studio based in Bankside, London. Founded in 1993 by Principal Director John Robertson, the studio has earned a long list of accolades, including several awards for its restoration of The Daily Express Building in 2001, the BCO Best of the Best award for LTA’s National Tennis Centre in 2008, and Graphisoft’s 2018 Project of the Year Award for a new-build office building at 33 King William Street, London.

The design team plans to retain the building’s existing structural frame, extend it, and upgrade both internal and external services and fabric. The intent is that the completed project will meet standards as set by the British Council for Offices’ (BCO) Guide to Specification 2014, as well as BREEAM Excellent standards and WELL Building standards. For instance, the refurbished building will support tenants that plan to obtain WELL workplace certification by promoting health, well-being and productivity.

Focusing on these guidelines means the refurbishment project will upgrade the building in several different ways, in terms of both environmental and sustainability improvements, and those designed to enhance the quality of life for tenants and workers.

For instance, air conditioning, heating, and lighting services throughout the building are designed to be low-energy and high-efficiency. These include new LED LG7-compliant lighting and a new VRF air conditioning system, as well as flexible open-plan office spaces, and full-height windows to capture lots of natural light and reduce light-energy usage.

The building will use 100% renewable energy, and will provide ground-floor cycle storage and changing facilities for those who use this mode of transportation.

In addition, the refurbished building will have a new seventh-storey rooftop, as well as a new Portland stone and brass facade designed to both manage solar gain and maximise available natural light. The ground-floor reception area will feature an open-plan design with a public cafe area and a large living wall to add a natural element to the space.

The Challenge of Using BIM in Refurbishment Projects

The developer’s BIM Execution Plan set out the team’s intentions for using BIM in the project, and these plans were agreed on with project consultants. The team then used ARCHICAD and other model based software develop 3D BIM models from existing 2D drawings and 3D point-cloud survey data the client provided for the purpose.

Using the Solibri, John Robertson Architects created a federated BIM model of the building for clash detection purposes, looking for instances where the “idealised” structure and “surveyed” fabric were at odds. This helped to pinpoint areas where there was a need for new and more accurate survey data.

Imogen Chapman, project architect, said, “Having access to highly detailed point-cloud survey information allowed us to identify differences between our idealised model and the surveyed building fabric. We were subsequently able to highlight issues and address them at the design stage before they became a problem to overcome on site, which could lead to delays.”

While it can be challenging to use BIM in refurbishment projects, therefore, the returns on that use can be significant. BIM makes it possible to detect and remove clashes before they ever become a problem. It doesn’t just save time, it can mean significant cost savings, too.

The design team has also used BIM software to create 3D visualisations
The design team has also used BIM software to create 3D visualisations

Once soft-strip demolition had exposed the building’s structural frame, it was then possible to verify the BIM model data and refine the designs as needed. In addition, once the idealised data was verified, a specialist mechanical, electrical, and process engineering team was able to complete detailed services design, using the verified 3D BIM environment.

“We have learned as a studio that early exposure of the structural frame is important when working with existing buildings, to reduce coordination risks down the line”

The client’s facilities management team could then confirm the level of information they wanted embedded in the BIM model. This included specification codes, structural properties, fire ratings and a unique component ID. Private clients often have their own standards for BIM, however as this refurbishment project was to BIM Level 2 JRA used it as an opportunity to trial the government’s Publicly Available Standards and then simply removed unwanted data from the final BIM model.

The 51 Moorgate refurbishment will be a modern, sustainable and healthy workplace where people and businesses can thrive.
The 51 Moorgate refurbishment will be a modern, sustainable and healthy workplace where people and businesses can thrive.

The design team has also used BIM software to create 3D visualisations and augmented reality simulations of the building for prospective tenants. Ultimately, the aim for this build is to refurbish 51 Moorgate with a focus on both quality and sustainability. Quality not just in terms of the building itself, but for its occupants too, as the build also focuses on developing spaces that are pleasant and healthy places to work.