Kriterion Conservation Architects

O’Hare & McGovern lift Restoration Award for Hamilton Architects’ Project, John Bell House, Belfast, at the Construction Excellence Awards

Hamilton Architects Restoration Award Construction Excellence Hamilton Architects Ohare Mcgovern
Pictured, from left, are: Neil Moore, Project Architect, Hamilton Architects; O’Hare and McGovern’s Edward O’Hare, Project Manager; Eamon Laverty, Design Manager; and Martin Lennon, Managing Director.
John Bell House, Belfast, a Hamilton Architects’ project in partnership with contractors O’Hare and McGovern, was one of the winners at this year’s Construction Excellence Awards.

The ‘Old Tech’, developed by Watkin Jones with local partner Lacuna Developments has won a number of accolades this year, including the Building Conservation Award at this year’s RICS Awards NI and finalist at the AJ Retrofit Awards in London.

O’Hare & McGovern lifted the Restoration Award at the Construction Excellence Awards, which were hosted by the Construction Employers Federation in partnership with Specify magazine.

Thirteen category winners out of a record showing of more than 110 entries from across the industry in Northern Ireland were recognised for their excellence of quality and service.

The £16m project at John Bell House breathed new life into this prominent listed building by providing 5* student accommodation via a mix of 413 modern, ensuite bedroom units and studio apartments.

CEF Managing Director John Armstrong commended winners for their success against what he described as “a time of significant political and economic uncertainty’ for the construction industry in Northern Ireland”.

“Our recent State of Trade Survey with BDO showed a local industry, over the first six months of 2017, working at its highest level of output in a decade,” he said.

“Taken in the round, and when added to the outputs of other respected surveys, we can confidently say the results reflect a local construction industry that is well beyond its low point of 2012. The next 6 to 12 month period is, though, absolutely critical for the local construction industry.

“The companies surveyed want to push on, they want to get beyond the stability phase that many have been in during recent years. The growth opportunities are there – the quarter on quarter increases in new housing starts and completions alone point to a housebuilding sector which is beginning to once again play a full role in unlocking economic growth and opportunity.

“There are, though, four clear challenges: industry concerns at a slowdown in public sector work resulting from the lack of a Northern Ireland Executive; the impact a potential hard Brexit could have on companies otherwise positive growth expectations; significant skills shortage across many trades; and how substantial rises in labour, material and plant costs are impacting on margins and firms’ capacity to reinvest.

“These challenges are, though, not insurmountable. Indeed, the opportunities that lie in front of us are very much within our grasp. But, as ever, we need the political and economic environment to be right to maximise the potential of our industry. A potential which is already on show in the reality of the projects that are on show at the awards.”