Blog: SECBE Awards 2022 finalist - St Hildas College Front of College Redevelopment

07 April 2022

Integration & Collaborative Working sponsored by Swegon

St. Hilda’s College, Front of College Redevelopment (submitted by Beard Construction)

Integration & Collaborative Working Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 finalist

It is rare that a project has a tender figure so far from the client’s budget, that undergoes extreme value engineering, whilst at the same time delivering such a likeness to the original concept design. The project is a testament to the skill and thoroughness of the team in the face of multiple challenges.

Oxford Preservation Trust has recognised the contribution of St. Hilda College's building to the city centre, in terms of how the building seamlessly blends with its surroundings, the quality of the build, the aesthetics of the design and the functionality of student accommodation provision. It was awarded an Oxford Preservation Trust Award 2021 for new building.

The customer has recognised our commitment to their goals:
“Beard has worked tirelessly with the novated design team and subcontractors, to ensure that the best possible outcome was achieved for St Hilda’s College.
“Despite the challenges due to Coronavirus, as promised, our study rooms were ready on time for the start of the academic year. This was a collaborative project and the successful outcome was driven by project manager Steve Lambourne and his team.
“Everyone is stunned by the architecture, the quality of finish and above all, Beard’s commitment to meeting client expectations.”
Neil Hyatt, Head of Buildings, St. Hilda’s College

This was the largest redevelopment of the college in its history and marked its 125th anniversary. Every aspect of the estate was altered, including the entrance, the street-view, a new crowned tower, and the riverside frontage.

Beard Construction took it upon itself to discharge many planning conditions, such as ecology, archaeology, land re-mediation, materials sign-off, environmental agency issues and a sewer. If the company did not take this approach, the project would have no doubt been delayed.

It was a very tight site with minimal storage, therefore Beard Construction had to be meticulous with planning, and ordering materials in small quantities which was made increasingly difficult because of material shortages.

Beard Construction implemented weekend working to compensate for the lost time. Opposite a public school; children and heavy traffic at peak times was challenging. The company hired a banksman to guide traffic and a planner to organise deliveries.


Key achievements:

  • Beard Construction produced a building that aligned with the concept design for 25% less than the original cost! At the start of the process, the gap between the forecast construction cost and the budget was £6m, which is a 25% saving from the original cost of £24m. It is a remarkable feat to make so many alterations without affecting the aesthetics of the building or without the customer feeling hard done by.

  • Beard Oxford’s highest value project to date, delivered in pandemic conditions, to the highest quality within a confined, tight site, in the middle of a teaching environment where any disturbances had to be kept to a minimum. Delivered on budget, students moved in at the start of term. Couldn’t have been delivered without a collaborative approach.

  • Six months (for a £20m project) of preparatory work to complete before a contract was signed. Works included the discharging of many planning conditions and value engineering to ensure the budget was back in line with the cost plan.


Client: St. Hilda’s College

Project Partners: Gort Scott, Austin Newport Group, Skelly & Couch – Client retained MEP Consultants, Solid Engineering


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Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Ceremony on Thurs 30th June 2022.


About the Integration & Collaborative Working Award (sponsored by Swegon): 

Collaborative working is central to the core values of Constructing Excellence and its drive for positive change in construction.  It is most likely to manifest in the delivery of specific projects, however those who can demonstrate a culture across a series or programme of projects show leadership in a sustained approach.  Integration of the supply chain, the client and end users will normally lead to a better outcome satisfying all stakeholders. More info

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards finalists here

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