Comment: Developing Teca has been a collaborative feat

An artist's impression of the main entrance at the TECA building. Picture: Contributed
An artist's impression of the main entrance at the TECA building. Picture: Contributed
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At over £300 million in value, 418 metres long, 30 metres high and using 8,300 tonnes of steel, The Event Complex Aberdeen (Teca) is the single biggest development project I have ever been involved in.

Due to open this summer to replace the existing AECC, the project will be transformational for Aberdeen and the North East. Teca will attract significantly more events, performers and conferences to the area, so in turn more visitors. Knowing the impact it will have on the area’s economy has made the work particularly rewarding.

I have many years’ experience in property project management, some on schemes even more complex than Teca, but the tight timescales and level of stakeholder engagement make this the biggest challenge for me to date.

As the development partner for this project, Henry Boot Developments works closely with a vast range of companies to deliver the scheme from start to finish. My role is often compared to the conductor of an orchestra – doing what is required to allow the team to perform to its very best.

To deliver Teca, I work closely with a team from main contractor Robertson Construction and Turner & Townsend Project Management, on behalf of our client and development partner Aberdeen City Council. I split my time between the Teca site and our regional office in Glasgow, close to many of the key design team members.

Days on site can be tiring, but ultimately rewarding. My focus is on progress, design and cost issues, liaising with the council and the facility’s operator SMG. On a project of this scale there is a considerable amount of day to day project management, but the key for me is to identify any issues as early as possible and work with the overall team to resolve them.

The first days of a project are always exhilarating. We hit the ground running in July 2016 with demolition, earthworks and major service diversions. We had been so immersed in bringing the project to site that it was only when work began that I realised the local community’s enthusiasm, which added to the excitement.

There have been a few notable moments. When we started on site, diverting utilities were the key challenges. We had to relocate five streams that crossed the site into one new river around the perimeter - a complex piece of engineering. Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) took a close interest in this work and we were pleased to hear that Sepa now use our project as an example to others.

Keeping on programme was tough in a demanding environment over that first winter but excellent technical work from the contractors and a good partnership with the utility companies triumphed.

The design of the main building is largely metal cladding, so the insolvency of the main cladding subcontractor in early 2018 affected short-term progress, but the timely intervention of the Robertson team to take this work on allowed us to recover lost time.

The building becoming wind and watertight was also a proud moment. Ultimately, the most rewarding aspect for me has been the ability of the project team to work together to deal with any issues that have arisen, which now allows us to look ahead to the final few months with enthusiasm and confidence.

Currently, the interior design package is underway, so spaces within the building are starting to come together. By April, internal areas will be completed, and the energy centre will go live, providing heat, cooling and power. What has for a long time felt like a massive engineering project will then really become Teca – the finishing line is in sight.

When the building opens in the summer, there will undoubtedly be a big-name performer lined up for the inaugural gig. Watching this fantastic facility, which has been such a huge part of my life for the past few years, come to life will be a moment that stays with me for a very long time.

- Nigel Munro, regional project manager, Henry Boot Developments