Turning construction theory into practice, Texas A&M construction science students studying abroad in the United Kingdom in summer 2016 built a scaled-down version of The Gherkin, an iconic London skyscraper, in 4 days.
The project’s various phases, including planning, budgeting, project management and hands-on construction, were part of Constructionarium, which provides students with a “hands on” construction experience on a 15-acre site in northeast England.
Construction on the 1/10 scale replica of The Gherkin began June 18, 2016, after students received plans, drawings and specifications from Constructionarium staff. The students organized themselves, doled out job assignments and created a building schedule.
On the second day of construction, students completed the structure’s foundation during a record-breaking rain, said Steve Rodgers, clinical professor of construction science, who was leading the students.
After the rain cleared, students continued the project with a crane operator they scheduled and managed, who lifted pre-fabricated steel components into place.
Each night, students serving as project manager, safety officer and accounting and scheduling heads informed their tough-nosed owner, a Constructionarium staffer, about their progress.
“Hard questions were asked and appropriate answers had to be provided,” said Rodgers.
As the days progressed, said Rodgers, the confidence and competence of the students noticeably increased. The steelwork, he continued, came together more quickly, the steel lifts accomplished more efficiently, safety issues dealt with more seamlessly as project developed a smooth momentum toward an early completion.
“By the fourth daily meeting, the students had honed their communication skills to a point that the owner was growing more satisfied his building would come in on time and on budget.”
Site personnel interacting with the students said at the final project meeting that they were a credit to their university and their country.
“Although the structures are typically removed immediately after the students leave, the group’s building will stand throughout the remainder of 2016, complete with an Aggie banner and flag, as a tribute to the work performed by the first group from the university to participate in the program,” said Rodgers.