Blog: Integration & Collaborative Working SECBE Awards 2020 finalist - Kennedy Building, University of Kent

11 June 2020

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Integration & Collaborative Working SECBE Awards 2020 finalist - Kennedy Building, University of Kent (submitted by Willmott Dixon)

The Kennedy Building at Kent University is the second project to be completed by Willmott Dixon following the success of the Sibson Building which sits adjacent to the Kennedy Building in Keynes College Campus, Canterbury. In April 2019, they handed over the keys of the new £13.4m building the University of Kent, defect free, on time and to budget.

The University of Kent is renowned for producing world-class research and learning facilities. This development has now become home to the School of Economics - giving shared teaching and amenity facilities along with both soft and hard landscaping, car parking and cycle stores. The new building creates a strong identity for the School of Economics and the development of the Business Hub within the wider masterplan. 

Construction of the 4,000 m2 (gross floor area) L-shaped building began in January 2018 and took 16 months to complete.

As a team, they took the learnings from their work on the Sibson building and knew that creating engagement amongst every stakeholder was of upmost importance. Decisions were made together with their customer, the design and supply chain. The ‘one team’ approach meant they agreed and managed the sequence throughout the project, ensuring there were no surprises along the way and zero snags left before handing over.

Prior to their work with the University of Kent, it had a history of poor-performing main contractors. However, due to the success of their collaborative projects, Willmott Dixon is now on site working with the University of Kent to deliver a third project – The Kent and Medway Medical School.

Highlights of the collaboration include:

  • BIM Level 2 project model used throughout for coordination with design team and supply chain partners
  • WhatsApp group for supply chain partners   
  • Facebook page for the campus to monitor progress
  • Implemented the standard startup for the SCP and managers enabling consistent time management and morning safety briefings held each day
  • Several workshop days completed at the local grammar school to encourage careers in construction
  • Free health screening supplied for supply chain partners, mental health first aiders, and a men’s health comedian talked to our team about common illnesses men suffer
  • A CIOB workshop held onsite
  • An emphasis on allowing team members to thrive through coaching rather than micromanagement
  • A clear focus for ‘one team’ culture – instilling confidence, providing support and creating a no-blame culture

Mark Ashmore, Project Manager for the University of Kent Estates Department:

“This was the easiest project of this type I have managed and this was solely down to the Willmott Dixon team. It has been really enjoyable to work on. We thought it would be a challenge to meet the standards delivered by Willmott Dixon on the previous project (Sibson Building) but this team has comfortably done just that! It was finished on time and under budget – a great result. Also, the project was final accounted before practical completion which has never happened to me before!”


  • Exceeding customer expectations - under budget, delivered on time and defect-free.
  • Becoming the contractor of choice – they have secured a third project with Kent University following successful completion of the Sibson Building and Kennedy Building to construct the Kent and Medway Medical School.
  • On budget – delivering the building to budget through a collaborative ‘one team’ approach and streamlined process.

About the Integration & Collaborative Working Award: 

Collaborative working is central to the core values of Constructing Excellence and its drive for positive change in construction.  It is most likely to manifest in the delivery of specific projects, however those who can demonstrate a culture across a series or programme of projects show leadership in a sustained approach. Integration of the supply chain, the client and end users will normally lead to a better outcome satisfying all stakeholders.

> Find out more about the other finalists here

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