London & South East

New hotel rises on the London Docks

Aloft London HotelDue to open in October 2011, the finishing touches are now being put to the new Aloft London Excel Hotel, which is situated adjacent to the ExCel Arena and is just ten minutes by tube from Canary Wharf.

Built by main contractors McAleer and Rushe for international chain Starwood Hotels, the Aloft Hotel will boast two hundred and fifty-two bedrooms, including twelve classy suites and a full range of modern leisure facilities. All the bedrooms feature contemporary designs, from signature platform beds to 42” LCD televisions and the convenience of wireless internet access throughout.

The ground floor comprises the ‘xyz bar’ and a gym, swimming pool and spa facility which was installed by specialists Cheshire Wellness. A glass wall next to the pool creates continuity with a cascade water feature just outside, while innovative designs by Morris Brill Lighting Design have been realised to incorporate LED lighting into the pool.

Meeting rooms and staff areas are found on the first floor, including five ‘Tactic’ working rooms, each at 25m2 and seating eight. Bedrooms are situated on the floors above.

Conor Feeney is Site Manager for McAleer and Rushe and has been working on the site, which McAleer and Rushe took charge of in June 2010. Works commenced in the first week of June. He told Premier Construction that it had been “a very interesting site to work on,” and explained the stages of the build, which has been run on an impressive sixty-eight week schedule.

Morgan Syndall carried out the initial operation of installing piles on the site in July 2010. This was followed by the erection of the concrete framework, which was completed in mid-November. The facade is made up of pre-fabricated panels, manufactured by German firm Metallbau Fruh. Once these arrived on site they were fixed to brackets already installed in the frame.

The involvement of Metalbau Fruh is notable given that the majority of the contractors on the programme are from the UK, an indication of how great an investment this hotel has been for the home economy.

Work continued to progress at a pace, and a bedroom interior mock-up was ready for inspection by early June 2011. With the Starwood Hotel’s seal of approval for the mock-up it was clear that nothing was being compromised on quality in the sixty-eight week build.

Conor Feeney told us that he was confident that the Aloft would be finished to as high a quality as any well-established central-London hotel, pointing out that many of the subcontractors on site are firms who worked on the W Hotels in Leicester Square, which were also designed and built by McAleer and Rushe.Aloft London Hotel

Although the site was clear for McAleer and Rushe to begin building, extensive groundworks have also been carried out, particularly to create the necessary drainage for the site. This comprises the basin of the site being filled with layers of clean stone, then 50mm of core and 100mm of tarmac to allow water to soak through the ground to the perforated pipes below.

Mr Feeney explained that this was a fairly easy process to carry out, but that the groundworks did limit space on the site, making it trickier to work on.

The site is ideally situated for many business and leisure links, but the nature of nearby facilities has meant that careful consultation with various neighbours of the project has been necessary throughout the project. Ongoing negotiation with City Airport regarding height restrictions was required when two tower-cranes were present on the site through June-July 2010. Events at the ExCel centre have also necessitated the erection of extra hoarding around the site, and thoughtful communication between the sites.

However, the busy site is an example of the good management that McAleer and Rushe are recognised for. The Aloft London Excel Hotel site is part of the Considerate Constructors scheme and the company are ISO 14001 accredited.

Bookings are being taken from the 31st of October at the Aloft Hotel as a smooth and successful build draws to a close. Conor Feeney commented, “All being well in a couple of months we’ll be packing our bags and moving off the site.”

One of the world’s largest hotel and leisure companies, Starwood Hotels conduct their hotel and leisure business both directly and through their subsidiaries. The chain’s brand names include St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points, and Element(SM).

Through their brands, Starwood Hotels are well represented in most major markets around the world. Their operations are reported in two business segments, hotels and vacation ownership and residential operations.

The hotel business emphasises the global operation of hotels and resorts primarily in the luxury and upscale segment of the lodging industry. The company seek to acquire interests in, or management or franchise rights with respect to properties in this segment. At December 31, 2010, their hotel portfolio included owned, leased, managed and franchised hotels totaling 1,027, with approximately 302,000 rooms in approximately 100 countries, and is comprised of 62 hotels that the company own or lease or in which they have a majority equity interest, 463 hotels managed by the company on behalf of third-party owners, and 502 hotels for which they receive franchise fees.

The McAleer & Rushe Group is a privately owned award winning property development, investment and construction firm with in excess of 40 years experience in the acquisition, design, development and construction of property.

Based in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, the company has operated throughout Ireland and the UK having undertaken projects in London, Belfast, Dublin and most regional cities.

The activities of the company are principally focused on the development and construction of high density city centre schemes, often as mixed use projects or as stand-alone buildings.

The company are specialists in the hotel and office sectors having completed in excess of 10,000 bedrooms for 12 national branded operators over 40 projects and 1.25m sqft office accommodation. City centre apartment and suburban housing schemes are also undertaken by the company.

 Metallbau Früh 

Bespoke building envelope experts German-based Metallbau Früh are just completing the installation of the external facades at the Aloft London Excel Hotel.

The 8,000 sq m bespoke external facades are designed as a modular cladding system, one half with silicone structural bonded glass and the other half featuring coloured stainless steel shingles. Both have been specially designed and manufactured by the company and installed by their own expert teams.

Metallbau Früh is a family company founded over 100 years ago, which has evolved into a specialist in the in-house design, manufacture and installation of building envelopes from metal and glass. Having all functions carried out in house ensures strict quality control and also assists in the timely completion of projects. The success of this policy is demonstrated by the fact that much of the company’s work comes from repeat business and recommendation.

No matter what type of construction, materials or geometry, be it stick or modularised systems, frameless glass facades or any other bespoke construction, Metallbau Früh can provide technical solutions and stunning aesthetics using their specialised knowledge, skills and expertise.

The company have been active in the UK market for over 25 years, having completed many prestigious projects including recent schemes such as the headquarters for NM Rothschilds Bank in London, the Titanic signature building in Belfast and the ‘W’ Hotel in Leicester Square (for Starwood Hotels – the same client as the project at the Aloft London Excel Hotel).

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