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RIBA Client Adviser case study: One Angel Square

Project Title: One Angel Square
RIBA Client Adviser:
Liz Pickard
Design Team Lead:
James Baker / BDP
Project type:
Civic Office
Project value:
£40 million

Interior photographs of Civic Offices © Andrew Hatfield

The new building, designed by BDP, provides agile workspace for over 2,000 NCC / LGSS employees, brought together from a number of sites, saving the council about £51 million over the next 20 years.

In 2012 Liz Pickard (alongside her team) was appointed Lead as Client Adviser to Northamptonshire County Council for their new 20,000 sqm civic headquarters, “Project Angel”. The key aim was to deliver a Strategic Public Asset, held over the long-term to embrace and adapt to the changing needs of the Council and its staff. The building has now been sold to a UK asset management firm for £64m, £11m more than what it cost to build, and leased back to the council.

Strategic Definition to Cabinet approval diagram by Consarc © BDP and NCC

Key learning

In Design and Build projects such as this one, once the architect is novated and the building architect’s client duties shift to the contractor, the client is left with a real gap especially regarding fit-out, furniture and preparing for occupation, which we were able to fill. Commercially astute large architectural practices tend to draw one design and not explore options, relying on the use of BIM, which isn’t normally used for flexible thinking. As a niche practice we can offer nimbleness in concept thinking before committing the client to expensive design work. Reliance on BIM does not lead to easy-to-build and cheaper construction, for example when inefficient setting-out grids affect costs all the way through to fit-out. The key lesson is that we questioned technicalities such as grid geometry in detail early to prevent knock-on costs.

Interior photographs of Civic Offices © Andrew Hatfield

As a RIBA Client Adviser and Workplace Consultants our team worked as part of the Lendlease project management team, helping create an experienced, ‘intelligent’ client team. The team worked extensively with the organisation. Liz co-authored the initial building brief for the incoming design team, helped establish the construction contracts, and produced the instructions for the OJEU competitive process (with LGSS) for the selection of the design team and principal contractor. In particular, Liz continuously monitored the design, providing technical assistance to the project manager and the client, reviewing drawings and specifications to ensure the brief and the employer’s requirements were met. As workplace consultants, the team worked closely with the in-house project team throughout the project, helping internal workgroups define and formulate their needs to be ‘move ready’. Liz worked on workplace zoning, assisted with art selection, development of the interior colour scheme and evaluated the furniture tender returns. The team facilitated internal communications and helped create an animated video for staff to understand the new building and workplace strategy from day one.

Interior photographs of Civic Offices © Andrew Hatfield

The team's contribution to the building’s realisation has been recognised in the RIBA East Midlands Awards 2018 with a specific mention of Consarc as Brief Writer and Technical Advisor. Thanks to their ambitious brief and ongoing technical client advisory input, the building achieves a very high BREEAM score and is the first in the UK to have throughout flexible user-controlled floor-mounted (and other) LED lighting fittings, which will dramatically lower the ongoing energy costs. It is a trailblazer in the operation of mixed mode ventilation approaches, and can accommodate up to 600 staff per floor, with high levels of natural light.

“Your professional approach, dedication to the task, willingness to meet challenging time scales, openness during moderation and knowledge and expertise fully contributed towards a successful outcome” - Richard Beeby, Programme Director, NCC

RIBA accredited Client Advisers are experienced architects that can provide impartial and informed advice from the earliest stages of your project. Find out more about why a Client Adviser may be right for your project, how to choose one, and read more case study examples.

Exterior photograph of One Angel Square office building © Andrew Hatfield
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