Mainzeal Construction South Island operations manager Graeme Earl says winning both the RMB 2007 Commercial Project of the Year and the Health Project Award for the new Burwood Hospital Surgical Services Unit was well-deserved recognition for his team.
Perseverance has certainly paid off for the company, which has entered the prestigious awards for the past seven years but never pulled off a big win.
The new unit at Burwood consists of four elective orthopaedic surgery theatres, a sterilisation unit, a 16-bed pre-op and recovery area, a 12-bed special care unit and a 30-bed surgical ward.
The key design requirement was the need for efficient patient flow in the unit, which replaced three small, outdated operating theatres and ancillary areas built in 1963.
The highly specialised new facility was designed by Sheppard and Rout Architects of Christchurch and Klein Architects of Auckland in consultation with Burwood’s clinical staff.
The unit has four state-of-the-art operating theatres and recovery areas, and ensures that Burwood Hospital can better meet its patients’ needs and make their comfort a top priority.
In-patient areas in the mainly single-storey design have a domestic feel with plenty of natural light and bedrooms opening on to planted courtyards.
Double-glazed windows are energy efficient, and sound-proof and durable materials, including precast concrete panels and brick, ensure the unit’s exterior will be low-maintenance.
The need for patient flows to be as logical and efficient as possible determined the layout of the facility, so patients could have a better experience in hospital, staff could process them and handle equipment more efficiently, and theatre throughputs could be maximised.
A dedicated entry with parking directly outside, wide theatre corridors, automatic doors and open-plan pre-op and recovery areas all helped to achieve this.
Mainzeal Construction won the project in a tender process which took nearly five weeks at the end of 2005.
“We actively pursued this contract,” Mr Earl says. “We were up against four others for the job. It wasn’t just luck — we really wanted this job.”
Mr Earl says the final product did not differ too much from the original plans. “There’s always going to be slight variation but, ultimately, nothing major changed.
“When we began the project, my first thought was ‘Yee-hah’!” Mr Earl says. “I was very happy. It was a very complex and intricate job with a huge quantity of services involved.
”The complex building has several specialised services, including medical gases, HEPA-filtration, humidification and provision for a large amount of clinical equipment installed separately by the client.
The project began in January 2006 and took 14 months to build, and was completed on time despite some of the worst winter weather in Canterbury for decades.
“The biggest challenge we faced was definitely the 45 days of inclement weather. We managed to work around it, but there was a lot of down time for the builders,” Mr Earl says.
Another challenge the team faced was that the hospital was fully operational during construction — no mean feat with up to 80 people onsite at one time, including Mainzeal’s management team, labourers and subcontractors.
Mr Earl says the Mainzeal construction team overcame any challenges with one word: “Teamwork!”
The onsite crew ensured the construction did not adversely affect the running of the hospital by liaising with staff over temporary service shutdowns, and preventing construction dust and noise from becoming a problem.
The competition judges commended the construction team for successfully pulling together the building’s complex elements, and ensuring the hospital was fully operational while building was in progress.
“The workmanship is remarkable and the property has a very restful ambience with lots of natural light. It’s a credit to the construction company and an asset to Christchurch and New Zealand.”
Mr Earl originally got into the building trade with the encouragement of a teacher at school in North Canterbury.
“The teacher’s husband was a builder, and she suggested it might be something I would enjoy,” he says. “I chose to go the commercial way back when I was an apprentice builder.”
Mr Earl has been working for Mainzeal for 15 years. “I started as a foreman and have moved my way up to South Island operations manager.”
His favourite projects over the years with Mainzeal have been on retail shopping malls. “I really enjoyed working on The Palms, and Westfield Riccarton,” he says.
“We’re hoping to get a retail job at Richmond which would be a huge job — probably two or three years.”
After last year’s success, Mainzeal Construction will definitely be entering the RMB Commercial Project Awards again this year.
“We are looking forward to entering the 2008 competition. We’ve got the Community Canterbury Charity Hospital to enter in the commercial and health categories, and we are actually entering a residential property this year too — a $2.5 million house.”
Mr Earl says entering the RMB Commercial Project Awards and House of the Year is about “recognising our people, our achievements and the quality workmanship we do”.
“It was fantastic for the team to finally be recognised as leading commercial builders and to be proud of their great achievements.”