The project involved the demolition of the Belfast Metropolitan College Building to create a mixed-use development comprising the 237-bedroom Belfast City Maldron Hotel and a 490-bed student accommodation block for Queen’s University, Belfast.
As one of the UK’s largest design and build construction companies, McAleer & Rushe has extensive experience of projects of this size and, notably, has completed a wide range of student accommodation facilities in Great Britain. This experience was put to the test with these prestigious projects. Located at McClintock Street and officially known as Elms BT2, the new building is one of two new student accommodation projects the company has completed concurrently for Queen’s University.
The other – Elms BT1 – is located at College Avenue in Belfast and both will help to cater for the demand in managed student accommodation for students at Queen’s University. “While it was based on the same site, we treated the Belfast City Maldron as a completely separate project,” explained Ciaran Tiffney, Project Manager, who headed up both the Elms BT1 and Elms BT2 projects for McAleer & Rushe. “However, in terms of a traffic management strategy and cranes, as well as the demolition process, it made sense to co- ordinate as much as possible between the two sites.” That co-ordination was also extended to the Elms BT1 project at College Avenue – adding to the logistical burden on the team.
“Internally, the two student accommodation projects are virtually the same and we also had the vast majority of sub-contractors and suppliers working on both. It meant a lot of planning and preparation, with input from many different sources, but we’re well used to that sort of thing and, overall, the project went smoothly. We utilised a lot of off-site construction techniques as well, which helped ensure we kept on schedule.”
The fact that Elms BT2 was completed two weeks early reflects how well that logistical planning went.
“We had a great team in place, with everyone focused on providing solutions, rather than problems,” added Ciaran.
The student accommodation at Elms BT2 is finished to a high specification. It includes a coffee bar as well as 490 en-suite bedrooms. Each floor contains a cluster of 3-6 single bedrooms.
These clusters also include a communal kitchen/living area for the students to enjoy. Elms BT1 also comprises 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.
“Everything went according to plan and we were delighted to have been able to hand over the project early,” concluded Ciaran.
All mechanical services at the McClintock Street student accommodation were undertaken by the experienced team at McAleer & McGaritty Ltd.
A mammoth project like this required a varied range of services including plumbing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and combined heat and power units. Previous experience on similar large jobs meant the project didn’t throw up any surprises for the team.
“The work we carried out was relatively straightforward and didn’t present any real challenges for us. We pride ourselves on our skilled and experienced team that are well able to deal with any difficulty that presents itself,” said Kevin McGarrity, Managing Director.
Various items of plant were installed at the McClintock Street project including CHP units, booster pumps, BMS systems, air conditioning equipment, copper crimped systems, copper brazed systems.
“As the plant room was to be located on the 15th floor, it was manufactured off-site at our in- house manufacturing workshop,” added Kevin. “This allowed for a very quick install on site.”
This process involved a six- week commissioning period which required a close working relationship with McAleer & Rushe, CCM and engineers at Queen’s University to ensure the project was handed over smoothly and on time. Previous experience stood McAleer & Rushe in good stead on this project.
“We have worked on numerous similar city centre sites with 250-1,100 bedrooms. They all present various logistical challenges so we have had to adopt new habits to enable a high level of service. We pride ourselves on being a well-organised streamlined company, which in turn wins us repeat business with various main contractors across Ireland and the UK.”
Coordination with the other teams on site meant the project could be delivered to the client on time and also on budget. “Due to its size, on-site collaboration was essential on this particular project. We look forward to continuing our relationship with McAleer & Rushe into the future.”
McClintock Street joins an already impressive portfolio of projects including installations in England, Scotland, Wales as well as the company’s main client base in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
In addition to the Elms BT2 student accommodation, the site of this project at McClintock Street also included a new 237-bedroom Maldron Hotel that was constructed by McAleer & Rushe concurrently as a separate building.
Consarc Design Group was the architect for both buildings from feasibility stage right through to construction and completion, with the student accommodation team headed up by Robert Clarke and Paul McCann.
“Although large scale managed student accommodation buildings are commonplace in England, Scotland and Wales, they are a relatively new typology to Northern Ireland and Belfast which presented its own design challenges,” explained Robert.
The site, which lies on the western edge of the Linen Conservation Area in Belfast City Centre, is enclosed on three sides by neighbouring properties. This dictated the linear form along the front street, while the specific and repetitive nature of housing so many students had a significant impact on the building form. Internally, bedrooms are arranged in 4-6 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. The rooms are accessed from a central circulation space that runs up the full height of the building.
A restrained palette of materials of brickwork, aluminium panels and sections of curtain walling on the front façade is arranged to portray three clear elements balanced within an overall composition that steps up slightly towards the end of the street. This simple yet considered design helps to lift what could otherwise have been a banal and monotonous form in this prominent city Centre location.
Paul added, “This was the first student accommodation building Consarc Design Group has worked on. We drew upon our wealth of experience in designing hotels across the UK and Ireland to apply our skills to a very similar building typology in terms of design and layout.“
S Consarc Design Group, The Gas Office, 4 Cromac Quay, Belfast, BT7 2JD
T: 028 9082 8400 – E: firstname.lastname@example.org
With responsibility for the entire electrical package at this 15 floor, city centre location, PMcK Electrical Contractors and Engineers had to draw on 40 years’ experience to take on the challenge of delivering the electrical engineering package for Queen’s University Belfast.
A technically complex project, the PMcK team installed electrical containment throughout the building at multiple distribution point to exacting QUB standards. “From each distribution point we had zoned electrical containment to all the individual bedrooms. We also supplied general lighting throughout the bedrooms along with emergency lighting, fire alarms, general power and access controls throughout each level as well,” said James Devlin, Contracts Manager.
On this design and build project, PMcK Electrical also carried out the comms installation. James commented, “All bedrooms have their own double data point, WiFi and computer access. On the 15th floor there’s a main mechanical plantroom which we carried out all the mechanical wiring for.
On the ground floor we also carried out the main generator. Essentially, we carried out all of the essential services throughout the building.”
The company also installed external lighting at the project. “Although this project was logistically difficult, there were quite a lot of challenges overcome by micro planning and close working with the main contractor. It was two years in the making and we’re delighted with the end result.”
A host of local suppliers were called upon for this project. From lighting to containment, PMcK Electrical ensured that only products from the most experienced, well-regarded suppliers were specified for the project.
“It was very much a local job. Unitrunk supplied all the electrical containment and Saturn LED provided all the lighting. Click Scolmore provided the general accessories throughout the building and sister company, Precision Switchgear and Controls manufactured all the switchgear.”
PMcK Electrical has worked with the main contractor, McAleer & Rushe, on several other prestigious projects. That finely honed working relationship helped to deliver the McClintock Street student accommodation project to a very high standard. “With this job, we renewed and strengthened our relationship with McAleer & Rushe. We’ve worked with them on other projects and I think that relationship helped ensure an excellent result with the McClintock St project.”
Although it was a complex job, the project didn’t present James and the team at PMcK Electrical with any major challenges.
“I’d say the biggest challenge was the sheer size of the building. Coordinating all the different elements and ensuring everything was completed on time was tricky. It’s nothing we haven’t encountered on large jobs we’ve worked on previously but it still required us to be organised and efficient at all times. We also had to be mindful that the client was Queen’s University and they are quite stringent when it comes to adhering to their specifications. They were also pushing to get students into the new accommodation before term started so meeting that deadline was quite a challenge.”
Established in 1984, PMcK Ltd delivers electrical contracting and engineering services across Ireland and the UK. The firm specialises in industrial electrical installations, control and automation, commercial contracts, inspection and testing and maintenance contracts. Large projects like the McClintock St student accommodation block present no challenges to the experienced team, who pride themselves on providing customers with a quality service, on time and on budget.
“We’re proud of the job we completed on this project and we’re delighted to have been able to work with the main contractor again. We’re looking forward to continuing that relationship into the future,” said James.
Thanks to a diverse portfolio of projects across Northern Ireland, SOS Joinery has become known for its quality, detailed joinery work and its commitment to ensuring clients receive only the best customer service.
The family run business completed all the second fix joinery on the McClintock Street project, fitting all the bedroom, communal, riser and front of house fire door sets, helping to make it the stand-out project it is today.
Quality is engrained in all work undertaken by SOS Joinery. The McClintock Street project demanded all of the company’s expertise and know-how to not just meet the deadline but to ensure a top-class finish was achieved.
“We’re delighted to have been involved in this prestigious project and we’re especially proud of the part we played in delivering such a top class facility. We worked closely with McAleer & Rushe and Woodmarque and showcased our ability to be an integral part of a successful team,” said Oliver Scullion at SOS Joinery.
SOS Joinery, 45a Desertmartin Road, Moneymore, Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, BT45 7RB
T: 028 8674 7683
With over 40 years’ experience in the industry, Woodmarque was perfectly positioned to meet the challenges of the McClintock Street Student Accommodation project.
The leader in the supply of door sets and specialist joinery worked on this almost simultaneously with another student accommodation construction project at College Avenue in Belfast.
“We supplied all the bedroom, communal, riser and front of house fire door sets in a mixture of veneered and laminate finishes,” explained Ronan Quinn, Director “We faced two fast paced, sequenced programmes with both these jobs running side by side. Our ability to mass manufacture these products alongside a sequenced delivery programme aided the 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 projects.”
Combining craftsmanship with the latest manufacturing techniques, Woodmarque is the supply partner of choice to some of the UK and Ireland’s premier contractors. The company’s product range includes panelled door sets, high performance and fire rated door sets, acoustic panels, screens and bespoke joinery and case goods.
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.
The project for McAleer & Rushe was completed almost simultaneously alongside another student accommodation facility – Elms BT2 at McClintock Street. Both were for Queen’s University and had to be completed within a strict timescale.
However, Errigal Contracts is well versed on meeting complex challenges and the company was able to provide the same high standards it has become renowned for.
Peter McCloskey, Senior Contracts Manager, said, “We have a lot of experience of working on projects of this size and nature so that came into play on both these projects. As much as possible, we treated them as two separate projects but there was a high level of crossover.
“Any changes on one of the student accommodation jobs then had to be followed through on the other, so that required a lot of communication and planning. The two jobs ran smoothly and we’re delighted to have been working with McAleer & Rushe.”
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
+353 (0) 47 70709
UK Office: 9 Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4YF
+44 (0) 203 4275608
AFS Ltd has been providing its expert services to projects across Northern Ireland for several years. The company specialises in passive fire protection, structural fire protection, fire stopping, intumescent coatings, sprayed coatings and protective coatings and was the first port of call when it came to fire protection at the McClintock Street student accommodation project.
All products supplied by the company were of the highest standard and met the most stringent safety requirements. Although the McClintock Street project had very specific requirements, the team at AFS were more than up to the job, thanks to years of experience working across a diverse range of projects, right across Northern Ireland.
A range of products of the highest quality were supplied and installed by the experienced and skilled team at AFS, who guarantee customer satisfaction on every project.
“All products supplied by the company were of the highest standard and met the most stringent safety requirements.”
AFS Ltd, First Floor 196 Upper Lisburn Road, Belfast BT10 0LA
T: 028 9031 5653
JP Corry’s ability to meet the tight schedules of major projects was tested to the limit by two student accommodation projects running side-by-side for McAleer & Rushe.
The leading builders’ merchant supplied Ibstock bricks, Kingspan Kooltherm insulation and Rockwool insulation to both Elms BT1 at College Avenue and Elms BT2 at McCormick Street projects.
The two projects ran almost simultaneously, meaning double the pressure for everyone involved.
Neil McGeown, Manager at JP Corry Springfield Road, commented, “We worked very closely with McAleer & Rushe to adapt to their needs on both sites and react to any changes in their plans. We’re well versed in projects of this size and our experienced team coupled with the strong relationships with our suppliers mean that we are in the perfect position to meet the challenging demands set by contractors.”
JP Corry, 648 Springfield Road, Belfast, BT12 7EH
T: 028 9024 3661
Specialist roofing contractor, GBS Roofing Ltd, has completed a hat- trick of student accommodation projects in recent months, including the new McClintock Street facility.
This project was one of two projects for McAleer & Rushe being carried out almost simultaneously that involved the installation of an IKO bitumen felt system.
“We only work with quality manufacturers and we are approved contractors for all the systems we install,” explained Barry Mairs, Managing Director.
“The manufacturers provide us with technical advice and design assistance and, for our customers, this ensures peace of mind from the initial concept through to installation.”
GBS Roofing Ltd operates in both the public and private sectors within the Northern Ireland market, offering a wide array of roofing solutions ranging from a flat roof for a house through to entire roofing and waterproofing requirements for large commercial projects.
FMS supplied a varied range of furniture at Elms BT2.
Kitchens, bedrooms, management suites and common rooms all required furniture ranging from modular sofas, desk and dining chairs, sofa seats, coffee tables and dining tables. FMS was able to utilise its years of experience to ensure the client received the highest possible service and benefitted from the company’s hands-on approach.
Ancillary products such as bins, ironing boards, brooms and mops were also supplied by FMS. As the last company onto the site, FMS had to deliver and place the furniture as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“As well as supplying products, we also like to place them. We’re well used to project managing every last element of a job so we have that side of our service down to a fine art,” said Pam Guest at FMS.
As with most projects, timing was an issue on the McClintock Street job. “That’s par for the course but we always strive to ensure we meet every deadline on every job that we undertake, which we did with McClintock Street.”
With 23 years’ experience behind it, D Mac Contracts was the perfect choice when it came to ensuring groundworks at the McClintock Street project were carried out efficiently.
The team at D Mac Contracts completed the substructure excavation and disposal, piling preparation, underground drainage, subfloor preparation and siteworks on the project.
David McConnell, Managing Director, commented, “This was a fairly large package for us, intensified further given the concurrent groundworks we carried out on the adjoining hotel development. However, our extensive experience working on large scale groundworks packages throughout the UK and Ireland, along with efficient pre-planning and close liaison with the McAleer & Rushe team, meant that both projects were completed successfully to a high standard and within programme.”
“This was our first project with McAleer & Rushe, however, since completion, we have been engaged on several more including the nearby College Avenue student accommodation which is a statement to how well we worked together.”
D Mac Contracts 27 Knockaleary Road, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, BT80 9EG
T: 028 867 51517
Time was of the essence at Elms BT2 at McClintock Street and Concrete Installation Services (C.I.S. Ltd) played an integral role in this process.
Carrying out specialist concrete cutting works throughout the new student accommodation, the company worked closely with McAleer & Rushe and Irwin M&E to co-ordinate the work. This was particularly important in scheduling in the installation of the bathroom pods.
“This type of work is bread and butter to us and it all went really smoothly,” explained Niall O’Hanlon, Director at Concrete Installation Services. “We take pride in our ability to co-ordinate our work alongside the contractor to ensure that everyone keeps on schedule. The pressure was on with this job, but we delivered on time.”
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.
The completion of two student accommodation projects in Belfast for McAleer & Rushe marks the end of a busy year for CB Contracts (NI) Ltd.
Elms BT1 at College Avenue and Elms BT2 at McClintock Street were run almost simultaneously. The company has now 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.
The responsibility of ensuring McAleer & Rushe had all the building materials required to complete the Elms BT2 at McClintock Street project fell to Murdock Builders Merchants.
The new student accommodation was part of two similar projects by McAleer & Rushe being carried out almost simultaneously in Belfast – with Murdock Builders Merchants being involved in both.
“We have an impressive product range and our own delivery fleet, so the biggest challenge on this project was co-ordination,” explained Ronan McGrath, Murdock Builders Merchants.
“We worked closely with McAleer & Rushe in the build up to the project and then were in regular contact with the team to organise orders and deliveries.”
He added, “We have substantial experience on projects like this right across Northern Ireland and offer a cost-effective and reliable service to main contractors.”
Murdock Builders Merchants, Kennedy Way Industrial Estate, 11 Kennedy Way, Blackstaff Way, Belfast, BT11 9DT
T: 028 9060 5855