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St Barts Hospital Site Visit

Date: April 16th 2013 
Venue: St Bartholomew’s Hospital, City of London 
Reviewer: Jairo A Jaramillo, Chair 2012-2013

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a building services engineer is being able to get ‘behind the scenes’ of some of London’s most iconic buildings. Getting under the skin, as it were, of the capital’s grand old edifices can be a timely reminder of how other companies do things and also provide a valuable education on the pitfalls and good ideas others have come across. 

Thanks to YEN London’s Joseph Wu, an exciting chance to attend the refurb
ishment of St Bartholomew’s Hospital. The hospital is the oldest in London, dating back from 1123 and is the oldest hospital in the UK still occupying its original site. However, as we entered the labyrinth of corridors and rooms that make up the site, it is clear that the hospital has at least another millennia of cutting edge medical care left in it yet! We were there principally to witness and learn about the use and installation of service modules, a piece of technology previously unknown to me. 


Our guide for the day was Nick Green, a man who has an intimate knowledge of the site and has been involved since day one. Amongst the myriad of golden nuggets of information he provided was the amazing level of precision that was required from the onset to ensure that the project could be completed. This high quality manufacturing was eventually arrived at but it did provide a subject lesson in how a close, symbiotic relationship between contractor and manufacturer is sometimes the only way of getting things done. Our guide punctuated these stories with trips to those areas of the hospital which had caused most headaches, and one glance at the photos will show why – the amount of coordination required for service corridors such as these is mindboggling, but the sense of satisfaction amongst the Gratte Brothers personnel was palpable and it is ever a privilege as a young engineer to see professionals from other companies and construction industry sectors do a 
good job. 
Lessons learnt were a key topic during our visit, with our guide keen to demonstrate that the experience of Bartholomew’s New Build will feed through to the upcoming King George V phase of the overall master project. Once again the spectre of insufficient survey data raised its head, with the discovery of old 100 year old plus masonry and hidden local reinforcement beams forcing the predetermined module runs to have to be re-planned and diverted – not easy when considering the level of pre-manufacture mentioned earlier! 
The day was a complete success and was enjoyed by all present. My immense thanks go to YEN London member Joseph Wu and our guide Nick Green for arranging the visit. 
YEN London will continue to investigate other opportunities for site visits with a difference, so to all readers, please keep an eye on the website and the LinkedIn page for future events. 
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