Full speed ahead for transport museum

17 Jul 2008

At the moment it is just a massive building site like so many others along the banks of the Clyde.

But within weeks, the public will see the first steelwork of an iconic world-class building rising from the ground.

The £74million Riverside Museum, which will replace the Transport Museum in the West End, will not open until the summer of 2011.

But 100 people are on site completing the groundwork necessary before the stunning structure by architect Zaha Hadid can begin to take shape.

The main work started on March 3 this year and involved excavating 6000 tonnes of material - the weight of 700 double decker buses.

It has been stockpiled on site while it is tested to see if it can be used in the project.

Jim Ward, construction manager for contractor HBG, is responsible for ensuring one of the largest museum developments in Britain goes according to plan.

He said: "We have created big mountains of earth on site and are doing chemical analysis to check if the material is suitable for re-use.

"It is better for the council and the environment if the material is re-usable."

Before work started, a site inspection was carried out by a structural engineer to establish exactly how far HBG would have to drill to find rock.

Once that was done, a carpet of stone was laid to support the drilling rigs needed to drive a staggering 1000 piles 20 metres into the ground.

They were filled with 1200 cubic meters of concrete and will support the ground floor slab of the new building.

Workers are now creating huge underground trenches which will conceal all the ventilation, mechanical and electrical services needed in the hi-tech museum.

Mr Ward said: "People passing the site will not see much because we are still working at underground level creating the trenches which will conceal all the services.

"Because they will all be underground, inside will have a very sleek architectural form."

The building site where the Clyde and the River Kelvin meet is the size of almost three football pitches, although the museum itself will be around the size of one pitch.

Around 1000 tonnes of steel in reinforced concrete is currently on site of which 300 tonnes has already been installed into the ground floor slab and trenches.

Despite the massive amount of work going on, the public are not likely to notice much happening until the first steel work rises from the ground in early September.

Mr Ward said: "The steel framework will take us all the way through to May of next year."

The end of August 2010 is the target for finishing building work but it will take another year to fit it out.

HBG was the main contractor for the £35m revamp of Kelvingrove and the £16m improvement work carried out at the City Halls.

But Mr Ward admitted the highly unusual design of the Riverside Museum will present a challenge for him and his team, partly because of the scale and size of the roof.

He said: "A building like this could only be designed with the aid of a computer so it would not have been possible to build anything like it in the past.

"It is a 21st century design and will be an iconic building - something Glasgow can be proud of."

The museum will house more than 3000 objects and is expected to attract more than 500,000 visitors each year.

Reproduced with the permission of The Evening Times(Glasgow) © Newsquest (Herald & Times) Ltd.

Project details
  • Riverside Museum