Like many cities with both a thriving commercial economy and varied leisure and cultural attractions, Leicester has a lack of varied hotel accommodation. Therefore, when Leicester-based property investment and development group, Charles Street Buildings was considering the right fit for a prime city centre site, formerly occupied by the Grand Centre Station, hotels were a natural choice to be part of the mix.
Charles Street Buildings wanted to create a legacy development that would showcase the company’s high-quality approach. The result is Great Central Square, a mixed used scheme constructed by Morgan Sindall, comprising two hotels, prestigious office accommodation and a leisure destination within the refurbished former station building, all set within pedestrianised public realm improvements.
Shackerely’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite ventilated façade system enabled Charles Street Buildings to specify various colourways and finishes for the two hotels and the office development from a single supplier. Not only did this bring variation to the project, balancing synergy with differentiation, it also offered project planning and co-ordination advantages, buildability benefits and confidence in a façade that will stand the test of time.
A Site with Significance
Occupying one of the most prominent positions in Leicester City centre, Great Central Square is located directly opposite John Lewis and Highcross Shopping Centre, making it an ideal site for both hotel and office accommodation.
Both of the development’s hotels will be operated by Accor but the two properties will offer varied choice to visitors drawing on two of the hotel company’s popular brands. The 100-room Adagio Apart Hotel sits side by side with a 152-room Novotel, and the choice of Shackerley’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite as the façade system helps to differentiate the two hotels while offering consistency of quality and materiality.
The design for both hotel buildings was delivered by architects, Leach Rhodes Walker, who had previously specified Shackerley’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite system for a number of hotel projects.
Gary Darby from Leach Rhodes Walker explains: “The Adagio and Novotel propositions are quite distinct and we wanted to express the buildings differently to reflect this while ensuring a level of consistency across the development.
“We needed a façade system that would offer a stone-like appearance to complement the public realm improvements, while offering a cost-effective solution, not just for the build programme but for the lifespan of the assets.
“With its durability and low maintenance credentials, Shackerley’s SureClad® system was the ideal response to the brief and the variety of colourways and finishes within the range gave us plenty of scope to select panels to differentiate the two buildings while benefitting from a streamlined supply chain.”
An impervious material that will not be damaged by the effects of freeze/thaw conditions, Shackerley’s Ceramic Granite is resistant to both graffiti and algae growth, which reduces the need for routine cleaning and maintenance. The SureClad® Ceramic Granite system’s resistance to discolouration due to U/V or pollution will also help the facades of both hotels to retain their high-quality appearance over time, and the system is also certified as an A1 non-combustible material to BS EN 13501-1.
Shackerley’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite system was specified in a mid-grey ‘Riven’ colourway with a natural finish for the Novotel building and a ‘Travertine’ honed beige colourway for the Adagio apart hotel. The complementary shades and textures were selected to provide a classic appearance for the façades.
Richard Frape, Project Director at Morgan Sindall Comments: “We had three buildings on the scheme and there was a requirement to keep an identity between the but also differentiate. The scope of the SureClad® system allowed the client to select from a vast palette of materials, whilst detailing was standardised throughout.”
Specification of Shackerley’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite system also offered buildability advantages, enabling a lighter structural frame for the building. It also answered local planning requirements for a high-quality building for such a prominent location, with appropriate finishes to complement the local built environment.
The Leach Rhodes Walker team’s previous experience of using Shackerley’s SureClad® system for a range of commercial projects was a key factor in the specification, but Charles Street Buildings and Morgan Sindall, also took an active role in selecting the façade material.
Gretta Murphy from Charles Street Buildings explains: “We are very hands-on as a developer throughout the specification of all our projects but, as a landmark development in our home city, Great Central Square is particularly important to us.
“We were looking for a façade system that articulated quality but also answered our cost requirements for the project. Leach Rhodes Walker suggested a number of options and we invested time in researching the product. We were also looking for quality and consistency of product and the level of service and technical support the supplier could offer us.”
As part of the specification process, Shackerley provided fully-mounted samples to enable the client and project team to experience the SureClad® system in combination with the company’s Queens Award winning Access support system. The project team also visited Shackerley’s ISO 9001 accredited production facility in Lancashire to see how the panels are made, and how each consignment is numbered and trackable for complete accountability.
Richard Frape continues: “Shackerley provided support in design meetings and assistance with the supply chain. We investigated other systems but felt that Shackerley’s SureClad® offered us technical support and the benefits of ready-to-install panels, pre-fabricated in the UK, which were critical to the project.”
As part of the specification process, the client also visited Shackerley’s material supplier in Italy before making a final decision.
Gretta Murphy continues: “The façade is the first thing a visitor sees when arriving at a development so it’s important to get it right. The site visits to Italy and Shackerley’s headquarters in Lancashire provided us with reassurance in a quality product and a reliable supply chain. Using a system that was fabricated in the UK was a big plus for us and the specification process gave us confidence that Shackerley’s SureClad® system would provide buildability, aesthetics and durability benefits, along with a smooth-running programme.”
The hotels were constructed using a lightweight structural frame with no structural concrete panels and the large-format, slim profile SureClad® Ceramic Granite panels from Shackerley provided an ideal façade build-up for the structure.
The fenestration scheme adds to the impact of the elevations with elongated windows that span multiple levels and the SureClad® panels have been used to complement this design feature, with vertical orientation to deliver both contrast and synergy.
The original specification called for bespoke panel sizes to co-ordinate with the fenestration scheme but this was value engineered to enable standard 1198 x 595mm panels to be used.
Chris Reeveley from Leach Rhodes Walker comments: “Shackerley worked with us to rationalise the façade scheme using standard sized SureClad® panels, which provided cost savings without reducing the visual impact or performance of the façade.
“The technical support the company offered throughout the project design and delivery was excellent. Early engagement with Shackerley meant that they could contribute to specification decisions that positively influenced buildability and cost management.”
The SureClad system also enabled increased flexibility of programming for the construction team.
Richard Frape adds; “The SureClad Access installation system allowed us to install the panels non-sequentially, which helped us with the sequencing of the project. This was particularly helpful in regards to the groundworks, because the Access system meant we could leave the buildings’ ground floor panels to be installed last.”
Supply Chain Benefits
Alongside the two hotels, Charles Street Buildings’ Grand Central Square Development also includes a high specification office development, designed by Stephen George and Partners. The research and supply chain engagement carried out as part of the façade specification process for the hotels influenced the choice of materials for the office element of the project, with two variants of Shackerley’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite system used here too.
For the office development, Shackerley’s Lunar SureClad® Ceramic Granite colourway, a pale grey with a mid-grey fleck, was used in a pearl finish, in combination with natural finish ‘Antigua’ red/brown panels.
Gretta Murphy adds: “Rationalising the supply chain not only helps to manage costs on a large project like this, but also helps with practical considerations, like co-ordination of deliveries to site, and with operational requirements, such as minimising points of contact and ensuring accountability.
“Working with Shackerley meant that we could bring different colour palette and textural elements to the varied buildings within the development, while maintaining consistent quality and technical support across both the hotels and the offices.”