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RIBA Client Adviser case study: Crossrail, London

Project Title: Crossrail central London stations, Linewide Architectural Components
Crossrail: Chief Engineer’s Group, Head of Architecture
RIBA Client Adviser:
George Stowell MA MRIAI RIBA, Framework Manager
Client Service Team:
Atkins, Grimshaw, GIA Equation, Maynard, Linewide Architectural Components
Central London Station Architects:
Aedas, SNC-Lavalin Atkins, Hawkins\Brown, John McAslan + Partners, Weston Williamson, Adamson Associates, Allies and Morrison, BDP, WilkinsonEyre, Fereday Pollard.
Project type:
Rail station infrastructure
Project value:
Station capex £6bn

Linewide station design concept, platform level mock at Crossrail's test facility © Crossrail

Crossrail involves the simultaneous completion of ten new stations in central London, each twice the spatial scale of existing Underground stations. 

The line-wide design brief was for a modern, functional and affordable service, through realisation of the following outcomes:

  • World-class passenger environment; easy to use, intuitive and coherent design
  • Sustainability; BREEAM, energy efficient, environmental and welfare benefit
  • Whole life value; realized by consistent civil engineering, station fit-out and operations with economies of scale through:
    • Standardization, modern methods of manufacture and installation
    • Reliable, efficient, low cost and safe lifecycle maintenance, upgrade and replacement

The Elizabeth line diagram. Central London stations between Abbey Wood and Paddington © Crossrail

Key learning

Services are valuable for large construction projects at business planning and briefing stages, then through the project process, enhancing client capabilities where full confidence in outcome delivery and technical compliance is required.

Combined client advice and technical services, including a RIBA Client Adviser, supports clients performing their executive role, with independent advice and evidence including:

  • initiating and facilitating outcome strategies
  • guiding use of relevant design and technical information at the right time
  • decision making free of bias and conflict of interest
  • where sponsors or third-parties are involved
  • if the client requires new and novel functionality
  • operational complexity, longevity or sustainability required

Selected Linewide station resolved requirements at Crossrail’s test facility © Crossrail

After completion of the linewide design concept in 2011, two separate types of client service enhanced Crossrail’s capabilities in managing design risk, technical compliance and outcome certainty. The Atkins, Grimshaw, Maynard, GIA Equation client service team was colocated in the client’s office under the direction of the Head of Architecture to Framework Manager and expert team.

In workstream one, the line-wide design concept was proved in an evidence-based way, through working full-scale prototypes and assemblies at Crossrail’s independent test facility. Parties involved included the client, infrastructure managers, consultants, sponsors and manufacturers. Decisions were made free of conflict of interest and bias that can be compromised during construction procurement, programme and site stages, including those that affected how the stations were to perform, operate and be maintained.

Workstream two utilised findings from workstream one, alongside wider expertise drawn from comparator infrastructure projects and academic knowledge, to support the Head of Architecture in the acceptance of contractor’s designs, manufacture and installation in independent and evidence-based ways. Through this process, progressive certainty was given in realising brief outcomes at built stations. Positive working relationships developed with site client delivery teams and contractors around shared, high-quality technical information, and practical innovations were shared between contractors.

Tottenham Court Road station, completed platform level with linewide architectural components © Crossrail

Professional services and technical evidence gave the following benefits:

  • provided a ‘golden thread’ of fit-out design, technical and construction information
  • de-risked stakeholder engagement from construction stage design change
  • maintained expertise incorporated in designs
  • provided a platform for contractor engagement about meeting requirements though BIM and DfMA processes
  • sourced evidence for whole life value and sustainability certainty
  • demonstrated passenger and maintainer safety
  • gave procurement options, including buying-solutions; some contractor scope was re-procured for programme and cost benefit
  • demonstrated economies of scale in construction and in-use processes
  • facilitated certainty in consistent technical and performance across stations.

Julian Robinson, Head of Architecture, Crossrail Ltd, says:

"I have worked with the Atkins Grimshaw Maynard GIA Equation Crossrail Linewide Architectural Components team since 2010. George Stowell has been the Framework Manager on the client advice and technical services phase of work since 2013.

I have found the team and George to be professional and effective. The team has helped solidify client requirements and provide solutions through review and critique of requirements and technical design submitted in response to my design brief.

The team has also in my view exhibited a clear understanding of design and procurement risk."

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.

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