OverviewThe towers of Canary Wharf was originally a dockyard and cargo warehouse at the West India Docks, which slowly degenerated by 1980s. Thus, the derelict land was left for a clear candidate for regeneration, which was an original vision of chairman of First Boston Real Estate, G Ware Travelstead. However, the idea was taken forward by Olympia & York (O& Y) developer Paul Reichmann. Right from the beginning, the project was a challenging one, as the development to the area not just demanded high quality but also great detailing and landscaping owing to the area on which it was to be built.
The project was undertaking by LMI, the US/UK management arm of Bovis. It was a difficult project with everything right from the land on which the area was to be developed was tough one. Furthermore, supplying logistics also posed another problem as the roads were not developed and equipped to handle such a huge project. Therefore, much of the logistics were supplied through the water way. Many new technologies were used, which included intermixing new and old techniques such as using foamed concrete and permanent slabs (‘Leader: Towering achievement’ 1991).
The success of the project was not just in terms of its technological achievements, but benefited the people and businesses in London, as it provided high-quality offices adjacent to London and thus, reducing the burden on the city. It also benefited the southeast area in a ripple effect. Furthermore, the design and engineering excellence showcased by the towers set new standards in building offices in the UK. Approach adopted by Lehrer-McGovern International in managing the projectLMI, the US/UK management arm of Bovis, right from the beginning understood the requirements of O& Y.
It read between the lines to decipher the differing attitudes and approaches adopted by O& M. Furthermore, their connections with Bovis gave it access to an entire directory of sub-contractors and build a management staff that were well-versed with the UK construction polices. LMI formulated a team that had in-depth understanding of construction management and UK laws regarding the construction industry. The team was headed by LMI chairman Fritz Rehkopf, with two senior vice-presidents, namely Richard Griffths, who looked after the construction division, and George Lacobescu for the procurement division.
In order to understand the requirement of the client in a better manner, LMI fully integrated itself with O& Y and adopted its culture as its own (Ridout 1991: 8-9). In its journey so far, both O& Y and LMI has been very tough taskmasters. For instance, in the early 1990, the company established itself as the construction manger of the tower and the first thing it did after assuming the role was to relegate Ellis-Don McAlpine from the role of management contractor to that of concrete contractor.
Furthermore, the company has never been afraid of speaking about the problems and shortcomings in the construction practices and policies followed in the UK. LMI had also often openly criticised the capabilities of even large contractors (Ridout 1991: 8-9). However, the contractors also admit that although being tough taskmasters, LMI had been a hands-on-client and are very much aware about the work. They believe in paying promptly for the work that can be measured. Although, there had been complaints from certain quarter of contractors, most of them believed that O& Y/LMI has been a good client to work for.
This can be best summed with the quote by Rehkopf who said that one of the major achievement of working with the company had been, "Collectively, what we have done is put together one of the best construction teams in the world in terms of size, scope and capability, including management contractors, the total staff is around the 600-plus level and that would probably place us among the top 10 construction firms in the world. " (Ridout 1991: 8-9)