Blog post: The challenges of working in comms at SCS (Part 1)

This blog post about working in communications at SCS Group has been written by Eleanore Nash, our Marketing Intern, who has been working with us over the summer

A picture of SCS Group Intern Eleanore Nash wearing a hard-hat and high-vis vest which she talks about in this blog post

Rocking the site look: SCS Group Intern Eleanore Nash on her site visit to Limehouse

The challenges of working in communications at SCS Group

Eleanore Nash, August 8, 2016


Part 1: You have to rock the hard-hat and high-visibility look

After having spent the best part of three weeks researching and writing about projects that I had only ever seen one or two pictures of, it was really interesting to finally see what the buildings and the SCS Group’s installations look like. On Wednesday, Ceri Garner-Jones (communications) and I travelled to London to visit the sites upfront.

Equipped with an SCS Group hard-hat, high-visibility vest and a pair of safety boots on my feet (a look I’ll pretend I can pull off), my day in the life of a project manager began.

27 Poultry

The first trip of the day was to Poultry, a development which will see the old Midlands Bank refurbished into a luxury hotel, where SCS Group was commissioned to design and install a smoke control system. The building itself is a beautiful piece of architecture, with marble staircases, stunning wooden furniture and high pillars with detailed carvings at the top.

Luke Wilczek, Project Manager at SCS Group, acted as our tour guide for the morning. He first took us down to basement level-one to see the former bank’s vault which featured in the James Bond film ‘Goldfinger’. The vault will be turned into a bar, leaving all the deposit boxes intact and turning the pull-out trays into drink tables. Luke also showed us the extractor fans which are still to be fitted, as well as the control panels used to operate the system. On the first floor, we saw the vents in the firefighting stairs which serve to pull the smoke away from the exit doors and up through the shafts.

A picture of 27 Poultry - a former bank which will soon be a luxury hotel. SCS Group is carrying out smoke control work here

27 Poultry – this former bank will soon be a luxury hotel. SCS Group is carrying out smoke control work here

We then began our ascent up a good ten flights of stairs to reach the top of the building.

The climb, which had my thighs and glutes aching the next day, was entirely worth it. The view from what will be the hotel’s rooftop bar is extraordinary. From the gherkin and the Leadenhall building to St Paul’s Cathedral, you can witness some of the best classic and modern designs London has to offer.

On the way back down, Luke explained the intricacies of working on refurbishment projects. As it is a Grade I-listed building, certain areas are off limit, meaning that ordinary smoke control systems cannot be installed. Adapting to the building, they had to install a separate fan to serve a particular space that couldn’t be serviced by the shafts. In another area, they couldn’t cut through the marble wall, having instead to put two fans on either side of the slab to extract smoke from a single shaft.

After a sneak-peek into what the end product will be – a very Victorian design with a glass ceiling that recalls Titanic – Ceri and I left to get some lunch.

Greenwich Peninsula Plot 103

My next trip was with Contracts Manager Dave Jenkinson who took me to see plot 103 of Greenwich Peninsula, where SCS Group was brought in to design, install and commission BMS (Building Management System), daily ventilation and natural smoke extract with ventilation.

In contrast to the previous development, this building was far more modern. We started on the underground carpark level where Dave pointed out the BMS and control panel. Climbing up yet more stairs (this job will really keep you fit), I saw the dampers in the corridor which use a push-pull system and the vents in the staircases. We then went to the roof where huge extractor fans are waiting to be screwed down.

Dave explained that this development is SCS Group’s first project to be fitted with BIM (Building Information Modelling), a system which allows you to see the development in 3D. The model gives a virtual representation of the building parts used in the development, and stores data on the building to ease its management.

Limehouse Basin

We then travelled over to the other side of the docks via the Emirates cable car and caught the DLR to Limehouse Basin. Having been to two construction sites, it was particularly interesting to see a finished product. Limehouse, which was completed in March of this year, boasts a fully functioning BMS system. Having only heard in theory what the system actual does, I was able to see how it works and witness its effectiveness for myself. Noticing a red light on the panel when we came in, Dave was immediately able to see where the fault was and correct it. Simple.

An eye-opener

Before going to these sites, I never appreciated the effort that goes into making a building safe. A control panel was always just the grey box in our garage that is switched off and on again when we have a power cut. I’ve since learnt how complex the system is (though it may not seem it to the engineers and project managers who deal with this type of system daily) and how clever smoke control installations are.

I’d like to thank all the people who made the trip possible, with a special mention to Luke and Dave for taking the time to show me around the various sites and making the intricate smoke control and BMS seem quite simple. Thank you to Ceri for coming with me and of course thank you to Regional Manager (London and South) Faye Young for lending me her safety gear so that I too could rock the construction look.

To be continued…

A picture of the site at Limehouse Basin where SCS Group has carried out work

SCS Group Intern Eleanore Nash visited this site at Limehouse Basin, which boasts a fully functioning BMS system

A picture of Greenwich Peninsula where SCS Group is carrying out work

Greenwich Peninsula, where SCS Group Intern Eleanore Nash visited Plot 103