Greswolde Construction

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Have we got brews for you

Work has started on a scheme that will bring a coffee revolution and a little bit of the high street into Halesowen College.

The £2.3m teaching block will include a Starbucks-linked café – a grand place to toast a highly successful five year relationship with Greswolde, which has been helping to transform the Whittingham campus since 2008.

“There are some very familiar Greswolde faces now.  We’ll miss them,” says Jacquie Carman, the College’s Director of Finance and Corporate Services.

The teaching block now underway is the fourth phase of a massive programme of a series of new buildings boasting bold contemporary architecture.

The new block incorporates teaching accommodation, coffee shop and a social learning zone, with internet access.

The café, an additional facility to the canteen, will also break new ground for the College by linking to the Starbucks chain.  “The coffee revolution has taken off,” says Jacquie.

“Our students really wanted a high street brand and everybody’s very excited about next January’s opening.”

That date will mark the completion of the College’s five year metamorphosis, in which the Greswolde teams have played a vital role.

The first development was a block housing a refectory and health and social care suite.  It was followed, in 2010, by a £4.2 m centre providing science laboratories, IT suites, animal care facilities and a Learning Resource Centre.  Then there was an interactive learning centre with travel and tourism classrooms.

“The campus has the concept of a learning village, so we have a number of individual blocks rather than one large building. But the architect very much incorporated the feel and style of the existing College into the new buildings while cleverly putting a 21st century spin on them,” adds Jacquie.

Jason Carpenter of BM3 Architecture says it has been extremely interesting to work on all four phases.  “A good relationship has developed between the practice, the College and Greswolde,” he comments.

“Halesowen knew exactly what it wanted and Greswolde has satisfied those requirements in the quality of the buildings, which have all turned out really well.  We’re very pleased.”

Jacquie also praises Greswolde for the “excellent” building work which had caused very little disruption to teaching and learning over the years.

“We have built up a very good working relationship, and it has been good to have the team on site.  But it will also be excellent to have it all completed,” she smiles.

Project Manager and Associate Director Chris Harrison says running a major construction project alongside a 4,000 pupil establishment naturally presents challenges, but Greswolde is well-versed in dealing with them.

“It has been nice to have four jobs in succession, and a good experience working with the College and Jason,” he adds.

Site Manager Dave Cheatham jokes that each morning he just ‘drops his car’ into the groove on the road to the College.  “Our main challenge is getting materials to the site, which involves travelling through the campus.  We try to ensure any of the big deliveries have been and gone before 8am when the rush starts,” he says.