McAleer & Rushe has transformed a former surface level car park at College Avenue, Belfast, into an impressive new 747-bed student accommodation building for Queen’s University.
Known as Elms BT1, the new building is one part of two new student accommodation projects that the company completed concurrently for the University in Belfast. The other – Elms BT2 – is located at McClintock Street in the city.
“Internally, the two projects are identical in many ways and we used that to our advantage,” explained Ciaran Tiffney, Project Manager, who headed up both the Elms BT1 and Elms BT2 projects for McAleer & Rushe.
“We doubled up on the vast majority of sub-contractors and suppliers and that made the overall process a lot easier. “The McClintock Street project started first so the College Avenue job benefitted a lot from this. Any snags or issues found at McClintock Street were removed by the time we commenced work on each level of College Avenue, so overall it ran a lot smoother as a result.”
The 11-storey building sets a new standard for managed student accommodation in the city. While it incorporates a gym and café as well as a main communal area and reception, the main focus is clearly on the residential levels.
Each floor contains a cluster of 3-6 single bedrooms, with an en-suite bathroom in each. These clusters also include a communal kitchen/living area for the students to enjoy. Elms BT1 also offers a number of studio apartments that include their own dedicated bedroom, kitchen, living room and bathroom.
The development is finished off with landscaped courtyards and an enclosed car park. “Logistically, the main focus was on keeping all our work on schedule,” added Ciaran. “It is a city centre location, so we had a traffic management plan in place for all our major deliveries. We also had to ensure that any knock-on effects of the McClintock Street programme were factored into the work at College Avenue.
“We had a great team of sub- contractors and suppliers on both projects. We have worked with many of them over the last 5-10 years, so they know the high standards that we expect from them, and some of the new companies that we worked with for the first time also impressed us.
“There was a great attitude from everyone and a collaborative approach to solving any issues. That makes all the difference.” Student accommodation and hotel projects have become bread and butter for McAleer & Rushe but this was Ciaran’s first project in Northern Ireland for a decade.
“I have been with McAleer & Rushe for five years but all my work has been in Great Britain,” he said. “It is the nature of the industry at the moment but we enjoyed the chance to showcase what we can do to a local audience.”
Given the company’s experience on large and complex projects, the challenge of working on two major new student accommodation facilities in Belfast almost simultaneously didn’t cause Errigal Contracts Ltd too many problems.
Having worked on projects across the UK and Ireland as well as further afield, Errigal Contracts Ltd supplied and installed the partitions and ceilings at Elms BT1 at College Avenue as well as Elms BT2 at McClintock Street. Both projects were by main contractor, McAleer & Rushe.
Mark Landers, Pre- Construction Manager, said, “We always encourage early engagement with our clients, and McAleer & Rushe embrace this. This gives all parties confidence on delivery, programme, quality and value for money.
“We have built up a lot of experience on projects like this and have become something of a specialist on student accommodation. Working on both the College Avenue and McClintock Street projects put that to the test but everything went smoothly.”
Established in 1996, Errigal Contracts Ltd has offices in the UK and Ireland. The company has become a market leader in the interior fitout sector, specialising in partition systems, ceilings and bespoke solutions. Reacting to client demands, the company has also developed its external façade services alongside a full fitout service.
In addition to quality products, Errigal Contracts matches this with a quality service that ensures every project the company is involved in has the ‘Errigal Quality’ stamp on it.
This service is based around the concept of the client and supplier working together, with Errigal Contracts matching the need to operate within a budget with good environmental practice. This approach has been proven across a number of high profile projects across the UK and Ireland.
Irish Office: Ardginny, Killybrone, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan
T: +353 (0) 47 70709
UK Office: 9 Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4YF
T: +44 (0) 203 4275608
From feasibility stage right through to construction and completion, Consarc Design Group was the architect on this project – continuing the company’s long-standing relationship with Queen’s University.
The site’s prominent location along with the fact that the building is one of the largest single student blocks in Belfast presented a significant challenge to successfully marry a repetitive internal program with a balanced overall form and composition to the façade.
Extensive consultations with the local planning authority helped to shape the scale and mass of the building. Many design hours were dedicated to the main façade along College Avenue, which is broken up by a mixture of different materials articulating the main building line.
Projecting bays of blue/grey brickwork with aluminium panels create a stepped form to contrast with the surrounding buff brickwork. The corner section of the building is finished with limestone rainscreen cladding, with another projecting bay of blue/grey brickwork over College Street to the south of the site. Lighter curtain walling units form the façade of the setback sections on the top of the building.
Internally, 3 circulation cores serve 3-6 bedroom ‘clusters’ complete with dedicated shared kitchen/lounge common room. Separate studio spaces are positioned to help to positively break the standard bedroom rhythm on the main façades and are articulated by large vertical runs of curtain walling on the main façade.
The rooms are arranged around two internal courtyards to allow natural light to enter every room.
“It is hoped that this development, and others like it on the many vacant sites within the city, will help to reintroduce ‘city centre living’ to Belfast,” explained Robert Clarke, Consarc Design Group, who worked on this project alongside Paul McCann. “Housing of all types will diversify the types of building within the urban core and increase urban density, reinvigorating the sense of place for the wider city.”
Haughian Bros Ltd completed the company’s biggest job in Northern Ireland at Elms BT1 at College Avenue.
The impressive new student accommodation includes over 700 bedrooms, and the expert team from Haughian Bros Ltd provided a complete joinery service to fit all the doors, ironmongery, architraves, skirting and stair strings.
Haughian Bros has earned a reputation for excellence in the commercial and residential sectors across the UK and Ireland. “We had, on average, 10 men working on this project which is easily our largest in Northern Ireland,” explained Noel Haughian, Director.
“We carry out a lot of work in Great Britain and have worked on a number of student accommodation projects there. We were delighted to be able to showcase our expertise here in Northern Ireland and while this was a demanding project, we made sure everything remained on schedule.”
Haughian Bros Ltd, 27 Oldtown Lane, Annalong, Newry, County Down, BT34 4XF
T: 077746 45410
Woodmarque acted at the double for McAleer & Rushe by completing two student accommodations in Belfast almost simultaneously. In addition to the College Avenue Student Accommodation project, the team was also involved in the McClintock Street Student Accommodation.
For both, the leader in the supply of door sets and specialist joinery supplied all the bedroom, communal, riser and front of house fire door sets in a mixture of veneered and laminate finishes. “We faced two fast paced, sequenced programmes with both these jobs running side by side,” explained Ronan Quinn, Director.
“Our ability to mass manufacture these products alongside a sequenced delivery programme aided a successful completion of the project.
“It was a pleasure working alongside the main contractor, McAleer & Rushe, and the client, Queen’s University, on both of these ventures.”
He added, “We have over 40 years’ experience in the industry, and this type of work reflects the high standards we can deliver on sizeable projects.”
That is also reflected in the fact that Woodmarque is currently completing a number of other student accommodation projects along with apartments, hotels and office fit-outs across the UK and Ireland.
The ability of Clarke Facades to provide a complete solution from concept – design through to installation was a key factor in the success of the College Avenue Student Accommodation building.
The company designed, supplied and installed a Metsec System Framing System (SFS) as well as rainscreen cladding to complete the impressive façade of this eye-catching new student accommodation facility.
Made from galvanised, lightweight steel sections, the SFS load-bearing walling system was fixed together onsite and provided the perfect foundation for the insulation, interior boards and exterior cladding to be installed onto.
This was complemented by the rainscreen cladding which was, again, designed, supplied and installed by Clarke Facades and included insulation, ventilated cavity fire barriers, and full support frame structure.
This value engineering approach to both the design and installation is underpinned by full testing of all the systems backed by a full warranty from Clarke Facades. The company continues to have very strong growth with turnover and secured project numbers increasing. Clarke Facades’ success has resulted in the company’s recent office move to a more collaborative office space. This has resulted in a large boost in employee numbers and the opening of Clarke Offsite – a fabrication facility which enables bespoke glazing to be fabricated offsite.
Clarke Facades has a strong portfolio of completed and secured projects. The company looks forward to building client relationships with the completion of full building envelopes on upcoming projects.
Specialists in fire, smoke and acoustic sealing systems, Belfast-based AFS Ltd provided its expert services to the College Avenue student accommodation project.
The company boasts years of experience working on commercial projects across Northern Ireland and was the specialist of choice when it came to ensuring the College Avenue project was fire- proofed. AFS specialises in passive fire protection, structural fire protection, fire stopping, intumescent coatings, sprayed coatings and protective coatings.
All products supplied by the firm are fully compliant and meet the most stringent safety requirements.
The company’s knowledgeable team were on hand throughout the build to answer questions and to ensure the correct sealing systems were used for each element of the project.
A range of products of the highest quality were supplied and installed by the experienced and skilled team at AFS, who guarantee customer satisfaction and a job well done every time.
AFS Ltd, First Floor 196 Upper Lisburn Road, Belfast BT10 0LA
T: 028 9031 5653
Murdock Builders Merchants worked closely with McAleer & Rushe on two extensive student accommodation projects in Belfast.
The company’s Kennedy Way branch in Belfast supplied all the general building materials required for both Elms BT1 at College Avenue and Elms BT2 at McClintock Street, with the two projects being built almost simultaneously.
“These were major projects in their own right but working on them almost side-by-side offered a range of challenges,” explained Ronan McGrath, Murdock Builders Merchants.
“However, given our experience on major projects, we were able to put a comprehensive plan in place and implement it completely to keep both running on schedule.
“We pride ourselves on building strong relationships with customers and that was vital on these projects.” “We pride ourselves on building strong relationships with customers.”
Murdock Builders Merchants, Kennedy Way Industrial Estate, 11 Kennedy Way, Blackstaff Way, Belfast, BT11 9DT
T: 028 9060 5855
CB Contracts (NI) Ltd has completed two student accommodation projects in Belfast for McAleer & Rushe.
Elms BT1 at College Avenue and Elms BT2 at McClintock Street round off a very busy year for CB Contracts in this sector. The company has successfully handed over 2,000-plus student bedrooms in 2018, which equates to over 185,000m2 of walls and ceilings painted and nearly 40,000m2 of vinyl and carpet laid in Belfast alone!
As far as can be determined, CB Contracts is the only company that offers the combined service of painting and flooring for large commercial projects in the UK and Ireland, and these projects are the perfect reflection of the benefits that this offers.
As a leading painting, flooring and hygienic finishes contractor, CB Contracts can tender for all contracts either as a combined package or as separate services. Regardless, clients receive the same high standards and attention to detail.
GBS Roofing Ltd already has extensive experience of installing the IKO bitumen felt system and this experience was essential in successfully delivering the complex roofing requirements at the College Avenue student accommodation project.
“We had to work on 10 different roof areas across five different levels, so logistically it was a challenging project,” explained Barry Mairs, Managing Director.
“This required close co-ordination with the main contractor, McAleer & Rushe, as well as the other sub-contractors to ensure that everything remained on schedule.”
IKO is one of a number of manufacturers with whom GBS Roofing Ltd holds approved contractor status. Barry added, “Being approved by these respected manufacturers reflects the high standards that we consistently deliver for our customers.”
Operating in both the public and private sectors, GBS Roofing Ltd offers a wide range of specialist flat roofing solutions for bespoke domestic requirements and major commercial projects.
By adopting a hands- on approach and endeavouring to not only meet but exceed the client brief, FMS completed a stellar job at Elms BT1 at College Avenue.
The company provided a diverse range of loose furniture, along with furniture for the common room and management suite for a student population of 800. For the bedrooms and kitchens, FMS supplied dining and desk chairs, sofa seats, modular sofas, chairs, stools, coffee tables and dining tables. Fabric for the sofas was sourced in Ireland before being sent to the manufacturer with an extremely high spec.
FMS also supplied a significant amount of ancillary products. “On College Avenue, this included brooms, ironing boards, strip mops and buckets, fire blankets and bins,” said David Beddy at FMS.
Getting the spec right for the end client and making sure that everything worked together logistically were the main challenges.
“We have worked with McAleer & Rushe before and they like the way we operate. This was a great project to be involved in, it was a pleasure to work with McAleer & Rushe again.”
JP Corry doubled up for McAleer & Rushe to supply building materials to the two student accommodation projects which the leading contractor completed almost simultaneously in Belfast.
For both Elms BT1 at College Avenue and Elms BT2 at McClintock Street, JP Corry supplied Ibstock bricks, Kingspan Kooltherm insulation and Rockwool insulation – all integral products for the building of these impressive new facilities.
These two sizeable projects running together put pressure on JP Corry’s Springfield Road branch to meet the demands set by McAleer & Rushe.
Neil McGeown, Manager at JP Corry Springfield Road, commented, “We understand the importance of delivering on time for projects of this size so we worked closely with the contractor to fit in with their schedule.”
JP Corry, 648 Springfield Road, Belfast, BT12 7EH
T: 028 9024 3661
The extensive experience of Concrete Installation Services (C.I.S. Ltd), proved to be an essential element for the smooth running of the Elms BT1 at College Avenue project.
The company has almost 30 years’ experience in the industry and carried out the specialist concrete cutting works throughout the impressive new student accommodation.
“We have a lot of experience on projects such as this and we didn’t face any real problems,” explained Niall O’Hanlon, Director at Concrete Installation Services.
“We worked closely with McAleer & Rushe and Irwin M&E to co-ordinate our work with their schedule and ensure everything moved ahead at a steady rate.”
With experience of working on projects all over the UK and Ireland, C.I.S. Ltd has developed a reputation for reliability. The company is currently working on a number of major projects in London and Dublin as well as in Belfast.
Concrete Installation Services Ltd, 36 Shanliss Road, Coalisland, County Tyrone, BT71 5PZ
T: 077 1328 7205
KScroll Ltd manufactured, supplied and fitted the impressive gates and railings located at the rear of the new College Avenue Student Accommodation in Belfast.
Providing gates and railings that met both the practical and aesthetic requirements of this project, K Scroll utilised the company’s extensive experience on commercial projects to deliver a bespoke solution.
The family-run business specialises in the manufacture, supply and installation of a wide range of high quality wrought iron components. The company has completed interior and exterior work on both new build and refurbishment/ restoration projects, including for some well-known pubs, clubs and hotels.
The company also offers a range of both exterior and interior wrought iron products for your home.
K Scroll’s exterior range includes gates, balconies, railings, post boxes, garden benches, weathervanes and cast iron lamps while interior products include staircases, curtain poles and candle sticks, to name but a few.