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Interserve, the national support services and construction group has finalised a £2.3 million refurbishment of a historic locally listed hotel, in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne.

The transformation was put in place in order to create additional student accommodation for Newcastle University.

Interserve support people and organisations to supervise change, helping to improve and maintain better environments where people live and work. The transformation of this building has included the installation of 66 brand new en-suite bedrooms, three lounges and 11 kitchens, as well as office space and a new lift for disabled access. The majority of the development focused on the design and interior of the accommodation, providing accessible accommodation throughout and maintaining the Victorian fashion that was already present within the Grand Hotel.

The in-house design workforce of Newcastle University devised the project design, incorporating lighting, heating, power and window controls, which are operated by card readers in the door of each bedroom. As a result of the partnership of the main contractor and design team, a renovation was produced integrating the classic Victorian features with the contemporary facilities that students will require whilst living away from home.

With the introduction of access key cards, students are able to activate the lights and controls in their own room, including the thermostat on the radiators. The system also permits individual control to the bedrooms with a vision to reducing operation costs and conserving energy.

During the project, Interserve triumphed over a number of challenges in terms of the building structure. New steelwork was required to preserve the building’s existing main staircase features and the integration of new handrails and spindles to match the original installation was necessary.

Another difficulty that was faced was with the refurbishment involving the combination of a very restricted site access coupled with the need to keep the ground floor shops in continuous operation. To do so this meant managing shared services, shared access and guaranteeing noise reduction.

Interserve’s Senior Quantity Surveyor said:

The challenge of this project has been to deliver hardwearing, modern facilities in a Victorian building that will meet the long-term needs of the University and its students, all within a city-centre location which demanded a specialist approach to access and sensitive handling of the immediate vicinity.”

A complete renewal was required of all mechanical boiler plant and the building’s heating system. Fortunately to the readjustments of the pipe-work each bedroom has its own separate riser.

Robin Beattie, Building Surveyor at Newcastle University commented:

The refurbishment of the Grand Hotel has provided Newcastle University with a high quality accommodation facility for its students. Close working between the design team from Newcastle University and the project team from Interserve was made easier by a long standing relationship between the two parties. This allowed regular flow of information to progress the project.”

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