Maintaining modern and historic buildings at UCL

The Aston Group is working with the University College London to maintain a portfolio of buildings some of which date back to the 1850’s. Andrew Pinder, an engineer in the UCL estates and facilities, says: “Some of our buildings are very old and sometimes you don’t know what’s behind the wall until you take it down.”

Aston Group has developed a particular reputation for its knowledge of water hygiene works, upgrading systems to be fit and proper for the 21st century. It completed its first water hygiene upgrade at the university’s Rockefeller Building.

Working ‘around’ the university and its people is a key skill that is much in demand, and many other premises including the Kathleen Lonsdale Building, Roberts Building, Christopher Ingold Building and Gordon Square Houses have all benefitted recently from Aston’s approach. Laboratories undertaking important research, for example, need to be protected from dust and dirt, and Aston has also completed a number of projects that have required replacing the domestic water pipework throughout an entire building: “These are difficult projects,” Andrew explains, “and have to be carried out over several months.

“The key challenge is in keeping the facilities available to students and staff and installing new systems without causing major disruption.”

Premises and Facilities Management article

Another key challenge is protecting the fabric of what are often historical buildings. As such, Aston Group’s role includes not just mechanical works, but also repairing, renovating and redecorating, boxing in pipes unobtrusively so that they blend in with the original décor, and matching ornate plaster and paint colours so that the aesthetics of the buildings are maintained.

Aston has also earned praise for its work in confined spaces. A safety-conscious business, it ensures that its people are fully trained and equipped with two-way radios, gas detectors and harnesses to deal with any potential hazard – a wise precaution when working among the detritus of buildings that were once hospitals or other medical research facilities, or built at a time when asbestos was still king.

Andrew has nothing but positive words to say about Aston Group and its team:

“You’re only ever as good as you last job,” he says, to coin a familiar phrase, “but with the Aston Group, we have never had a bad job.”