Pirbright is crowned top at BCI Awards

£100m engineering project by Shepherd is recognised for the technical ingenuity that went into bio-containment laboratories

Shepherd delivered a ground-breaking solution

The BBSRC National Virology Centre: The Plowright Building, constructed and engineered by Shepherd at The Pirbright Institute in Surrey, UK, has won the Judges’ Special Award at the British Construction Industry (BCI) Awards.

Given to the building or civil engineering project which the judges consider to be particularly inspirational, the accolade recognises the technical ingenuity that went into building these state-of-the-art high-security bio-containment laboratories.

The £100m plus project, funded through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), has provided the Institute with a world-class facility to carry out vital scientific research and cements its reputation as a world-leading centre-of-excellence in the surveillance and control of viral diseases of farm animals and viruses that spread from animals to humans.

Classified at Category Level 4 (CL4), the highest possible level of bio-containment for animal pathogens, the judges said the 'incredibly impressive' project was 'an example of British planning, design, engineering and construction already attracting worldwide scientific interest'.

The project was delivered on time and on budget by Shepherd and represents an unparalleled technical accomplishment for the built environment sector.

This critical project has significantly raised the bar for science and research facilities on a global scale

Shepherd had to deliver a ground-breaking solution that could meet the complex challenges of building one of the world's most advanced bio-hazard containment facilities. Key achievements include air tightness levels that are x1,100 tighter than applicable building regulations and at x4 the pressure to maintain air pressure control and provide the required containment environment.

To guarantee certainty of delivery and a zero failure approach, Shepherd built its own separate research and development facility on site before full construction commenced. This enabled the company to test the proposals prior to construction.

The award-winning team accepts its accolade at the BCI Awards

Mark Perkins, CEO of Shepherd, said: 'This critical project has significantly raised the bar for science and research facilities on a global scale, so we’re delighted it has been recognised with the Judges’ Special Award.

'Not only will The Pirbright Institute leave a long-term legacy for the science community, but the inspiring and practical spaces created by our construction and engineering teams have also set an industry benchmark in the built environment.'

Dr Michael Johnson, Head of Engineering and Estates at Pirbright, added: 'Receiving the Judges’ Special Award for the BBSRC National Virology Centre represents the climax to what has been a uniquely challenging project.

'Not only will our new state-of-the-art facilities enable us to drive forward our vision to control and eradicate devastating virus diseases of livestock and viruses that spread from animals to humans, but it will also allow for the planned future development of the Institute campus.

'Ultimately, this will help us to continue to protect the UK economy, our food security and the welfare of animals and humans, both nationally and internationally.'

The Pirbright Institute fought off stiff competition to win the Judges’ Special Award from projects including the British Museum World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre, the Manchester School of Art, the London Aquatics Centre and WWF UK’s Living Planet Centre headquarters.