Great Portland Estates Rolls Out Soft Landings Brief

24/05/2018

Following a successful pilot at 30 Broadwick Street, Great Portland Estates has rolled out its Soft Landings Brief on all new developments. This collaborative approach is smoothing the transition of buildings through the construction phase, commissioning, fit-out and into occupation.

IMPROVING COMMUNICATION BETWEEN TEAMS

ADDRESSING ISSUES BEFORE THEY ARISE

DELIVERING BETTER BUILDINGS FOR OCCUPIERS

ENHANCING THE EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYONE

Situation

Great Portland Estates 'GPE' is a property investment and development company focused entirely on central London. In 2015, its post-occupancy evaluations on recently completed developments revealed opportunities to improve the move-in experience for occupiers by smoothing the transition between construction and operation.

GPE wanted to implement a process to help:

  • Design and construction teams understand operational issues before handover, improving their decision making.
  • Operational teams understand the building thoroughly from day one, so they were well placed to support occupiers.

Soft Landings is a BSRIA-led building delivery process that runs from inception to completion and beyond, to ensure all decisions are based on improving the building’s operational performance.

GPE decided to test the potential of Soft Landings at 30 Broadwick Street, a 92,300 sq ft office and retail development in Soho. Completed in November 2016, the scheme provides office accommodation on the first to sixth floors, and retail and restaurant space at ground and lower ground level.

Informed by the 30 Broadwick Street pilot, GPE has developed a Soft Landings Brief to be used portfolio wide. This is now being applied from early in the design process and was adopted at 1 Dean Street, 160 Old Street and Rathbone Square. The process is currently underway for Hanover Square, Oxford House and Cityside House.

Actions

Through the Soft Landings process:

  • From the outset, the Soft Landings Coordinator liaises with all parties, bringing them together. At 30 Broadwick Street, this included the external team, comprising principal contractor BAM, architect Emrys, and M&E consultant Hilson Moran, and the internal team, comprising the Project Manager, Portfolio Manager, Leasing Manager, Building Surveyor, Building Services Manager, Energy Manager, Facilities Management (FM) team, Regional Building Manager and Building Manager.
  • During construction, the Occupier Services team as a whole takes part in fortnightly meetings and walk arounds, something which normally would happen closer to handover. This early engagement also gives the Occupier Services team opportunities to input to and influence the operational aspects of M&E, security and other operational strategies. As a result, they are better able to support occupier fit-outs because they know the building as well as the project team. A Soft Landings tracker is implemented to ensure that outputs from occupier services meetings are followed up.
  • During construction, the principal contractor provides the FM team with a training schedule, into which they can input, and gives training and technical guidance on all systems to the FM team, M&E contractor and security contractor. The Occupier Services team is closely involved in the physical witnessing of some systems and the Building Manager has the opportunity to review and sign off the operation and maintenance information as it is produced.
  • Before the handover, the FM team and contractors are included in ‘reality check’ reviews to ensure equipment works as intended, along with demonstrations of control interfaces. After the handover, a sign-off review is completed, ensuring all reality check items are complete and systems signed-off and operational. Aftercare continues to year three, including monitoring, review, seasonal commissioning and independent post-occupancy evaluations.

Financials

At 30 Broadwick Street:

  • Less than 0.25% of total project cost estimated on Soft Landings, funded through capex.
  • 110 estimated hours invested by the building management team in Soft Landings, saving significant time when compared with time spent resolving issues once the property was occupied.

Soft Landings contributed to the success of the scheme:

  • Ensuring a smooth handover to the operational team and occupiers.
  • Achieving a 174% increase in average office rent and new record office rent for Soho.
  • Attracting occupiers including private equity firms EQT and Exponent, Boston Digital and The Ivy Soho Brasserie.

Benefits

Improved communication and relationships between teams lead to a building that performs better:

  • Operational team understand the building from day one, so they are better placed to support occupiers and their fit-out teams, which is particularly important during the complex move-in period. They also have greater insight into what is possible in the building, so they are more likely to have the answers to questions or know who to ask.
  • Design and Construction team understand day-to-day operational issues, so they can address issues before they arise, adjusting layouts and settings to work better (see ‘Changes’ in the section below). They also take these insights to future projects.
  • FM contractors received early tender walk rounds, which resulted in faster mobilisation; successful contractors attended training courses on building systems prior to practical completion.
  • Occupiers have a better experience from the start. They move into a building where there are likely to be fewer operational issues, due both to development changes informed by input from the operational team and to the design, construction and operational teams working together to resolve snagging issues. In addition, they receive accurate, timely information about how the building works and what is possible for their fit-out.

This all assists in motivating the team and improving the occupier experience.

Challenges & Achievements

BUY-IN

How to get Soft Landings off the ground?

Buy-in from all parties is key. The 30 Broadwick Street team was open to the process. The architect and M&E consultant could see the benefit of Soft Landings in their work on Design for Performance. The principal contractor was keen to use this approach for research and development purposes. GPE and the building management team recognised its potential to improve the move-in experience for occupiers. There was full support at every level. Now that the benefits of Soft Landings have been proven on one GPE building, it is easier to get buy-in on other projects. A member of the GPE team or a member of the consultant team acts as Soft Landings Coordinator, overseeing the process and managing the outcomes of regular meetings between design, project and operational teams, as well as ensuring that Services Consultants and Building Services Managers provide essential information from the commissioning process to building management teams in the run-up to practical completion.

CHANGES

How can early input from the operational team deliver a better building?

At 30 Broadwick Street, early input from the operational team resulted in a range of changes to improve how the building is managed. For instance, CCTV cameras, monitors and pass readers were all moved to help people pass through the building more easily once in use. This is something that is relatively straightforward to change during design and construction but more challenging and costly to move once the building is finished. Other changes included BMS panel locations, window cleaning strategy, servicing strategy, key suiting and the layout of the reception desk. GPE has also taken lessons learnt onto other projects. Through Soft Landings, operational issues at 30 Broadwick Street were identified early enough to put a plan in place. For other projects, the Occupier Services team is engaging earlier in the design process, following a defined plan to ensure that operational issues are considered and addressed at the appropriate point during early design stage.   

Find out more

Janine Cole

Head of Sustainability

Great Portland Estates

E: janine.cole@gpe.co.uk

T: 020 7647 3000

www.gpe.co.uk

“The quality of 30 Broadwick Street and exemplary handover of our restaurant space enabled us to complete our fit-out and be open to customers on schedule to a tight timeframe.”

Benoit Noyez, Assistant Manager, The Ivy Soho Brasserie