Talking Points

The biggest talking point from last weekend was the mighty demolition that took place in the city… no, not Manchester City’s demolition of Chelsea (although that was incredibly significant!), I’m talking about the demolition of the iconic 1960’s Precinct Centre Bridge. I visited the site with my daughter in the morning and it was an incredible scene. The demolition machinery appeared to work autonomously with their neck-like structures and immense jaws eating away at the structure piece by piece.

Recent work by Dr James Hopkins (University Historian and Heritage Manager), unearthed University plans from the 1960’s that outlined a fascinating vision for the development of interconnected walkways across the city. The Precinct Bridge was to be a central part of this utopian dream to link the University with Hulme, Ardwick and the city centre but I’ve no doubt that, once the Estates Masterplan is completed, the visual change to this area will be even more spectacular. It’s great that we’re now able to get a clearer view of our magnificent buildings as we approach the University along Oxford Road (and it’s also surprising to see how big the trees are outside the Kilburn Building).

Trial staff furniture
Trial staff furniture

Adam Cooper (Communications Officer), Jason Oak (Senior Interior Designer, Space Invaders) and I had the pleasure of working with the Redevelopment Champions again this week. We arranged a meeting with them at Joule Library in order to give them a preview of trial staff furniture and to capture their first impressions. The session was fantastic and very useful for the Main Library Redevelopment. We received some brilliant feedback which will give the Project Team further insight into how different areas of the Library operate and help us to better understand the needs of our staff. The feedback will also prove invaluable for developing the trial area ahead of inviting other members of staff to visit the space.

Manchester Business School East
Manchester Business School East

I have been liaising with Peter Bulkley (Associate Academic, Manchester Business School) about refining a project proposal to engage his MBA students with the Main Library Redevelopment. As part of their course, they will bid for real life consultancy projects for which they’ll work with clients over a number of months against a defined brief in order to provide solutions to a range of challenges. We are continuing to test our proposals to make sure that they provide value for both the students and the Redevelopment. This is a fantastic opportunity for the students to develop their negotiation and project management skills and I’m confident that we’ll develop some great ideas to engage them in the process.

There are several building surveys taking place in the Main Library at the moment, both in preparation for the Redevelopment and alongside other planned Estates work. It is becoming increasingly busy with contractors in the building but this is being managed very well through the expertise of Senior Faculty Operations Officer Colin O’Neil and Deputy Building Superintendent Andrzej Stawiarz and his House Services team. We have also contracted an additional security guard to provide extra support in the building during this period.

One Riverside under construction
One Riverside under construction

I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about Rochdale Council’s move to their new offices at One Riverside and this knowledge has informed my decision-making process as I continue to work on producing draft phasing documents for the Redevelopment. Dominic Hunt (Strategic Project Manager) and Chris Ibbott (Capital Project Manager) were both involved in Rochdale’s move prior to working at the University and their input has proved invaluable. An important part of the phasing works will be to inform the contractors about our daily, monthly and annual trends of use and footfall in the Library. I have spent a considerable amount of time assessing a range of data to inform these discussions, with the aim that we’ll complete the works while causing as little disruption as possible.

I also had an informative discussion with June Howarth (Customer Services Manager), Phil Unsworth (Assistant Fire Officer) and Carolyn Gamble (Fire Training and Evacuation Coordinator) about the implications of the phased construction programme and each decant stage on our fire and emergency safety procedures. The health and safety of our customers will remain our highest priority throughout the duration of this project and it will be crucial in ensuring that our approach to the Redevelopment is a success.

On Friday, 21 August I will have been Library Space Project Manager for exactly two months. Though it’s still early days in the Redevelopment, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I’m excited about the future of the project. The enthusiasm and support from Library staff and wider academic community for driving the Main Library Redevelopment forward is a continual source of encouragement. I’d like to offer a personal thank you to everyone involved in the project so far.

There’s a buzz in the air and I’m sure you can also feel that we are gearing up towards Welcome Week. Slowly but surely the campus is getting busier. The University’s Welcome site has lots of useful information for our new arrivals and is well worth a look to see what’s happening on campus over the next month. Manchester Food and Drink Festival will also be starting soon and with the huge range of places to eat and drink in the city, it’s a great time of year to sample places new and old. For everyone already working and living in Manchester, and for anyone preparing to join us, this is why Manchester is the place to be (The University of Manchester and The Whitworth are mentioned as two of the thirteen reasons why…obviously!).

Mike Kelly, Library Space Project Manager

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