Monday, 19 September 2016

Summer Placement: BuroHappold

Rhona Kerr, SELA Cohort 2015

Over the course of my 8-week placement I have been working at BuroHappold in their Leeds office. BuroHappold is an international engineering consultancy specialising in designing urban environments, transit hubs, city districts and entire cities. The company is known for creating innovative solutions to some of the globe’s most iconic infrastructure. Think; the Millennium Dome, the Olympic Stadium and of course Sheffield’s own Winter Gardens.

I have been working within the structures department and the project I have been working on is called Angel Gardens, which is part of the NOMA redevelopment project based in Manchester. Once complete, the building will be the third tallest structure in Manchester city centre, altering the skyline of the city. It will be situated next to One Angel Square, the award winning CO-OP headquarters, which was a project previously undertaken by BuroHappold and awarded BREEAM Outstanding status, as well as multiple awards.

Throughout my placement I have gained invaluable experience, learning how to design tall buildings. This was a rare opportunity, as tall buildings are infrequently built within the UK.

I learnt to use a lot of new software in order to do the analysis of both the ground floor slab and the shear walls within the tower core. My main duties have been looking at the reinforcement within both the ground level slab and within the core of the tower. This has meant analysing the deflection, the stresses and the cracking within the concrete to check it is within tolerance. I have also been responsible for designing the required reinforcement within the slab, doing punching shear calculations, as well as hand calculations to check the forces and moments within the single spanning slabs and the beams on the ground floor.

Working on one project has allowed me to gain an in-depth understanding of how all the components of a project fit together. I have witnessed how the structures team interacts with other departments, such as Geotechnical engineers to bring the project together. Although I have been working on only one project throughout my time in the office, I have had the chance to hear about the diverse range of projects Burohappold undertakes.

The extra activities provided is one of the reasons I have enjoyed working at BuroHappold so much this summer. I have been allowed to attend CPDs and structures club that have given me useful experience allowing me to constantly gain more knowledge about the industry. One particular event, which sticks in my mind, was a lunchtime structures club. The topic of the day- How close can you pile next to an existing building? The answer obviously includes many different factors: ground conditions, existing foundations, size of equipment etc. After a detailed discussion with everyone from the team inputting his or her previous experience and knowledge it was decided that for this case the answer was 1.5 metres.

Events like this created a sociable working environment which was perfect for a placement student with many questions! I am very thankful that completing a placement is part of the SELA scheme as I believe the experience will come in useful for the remainder of my degree course.

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