IMG_20150623_120129The first major milestone in the construction of Dundee’s £80.11 million V&A museum has been reached with the completion of a coffer dam in the River Tay.

Beginning the construction of the museum in March, BAM Construction has now completed the temporary watertight structure built around the part of the building which will protrude out over the river.

The work allows the area enclosed by the cofferdam to have the water pumped out, creating a dry working environment for the major land reclamation work to proceed.

Key figures including Dundee City Council administration leader Councillor Ken Guild, city development director Mike Galloway and Philip Long, director, V&A Museum of Design Dundee were taken on a guided tour of the site yesterday following the completion of the cofferdam at the end of last month.

The milestone was achieved ahead of the June 1 date where the summer embargo of works on the river begins to avoid any impact on the harbour seal breeding season.

BAM said the project was “on target to deliver a world-class building”.

Doug Keillor, regional director of BAM Construction in Scotland, spoke to SCN about his excitement of working on the unique development.

He said: “A project such as this comes along maybe once or twice in your lifetime in construction and we’ve been lucky that this is our second one. We had the benefit of building the Riverside Museum in Glasgow which has put us in a great position for building the V&A.

“They are similar in that they are both special shapes for which we have found a method of working to construct. People like a challenge and this is certainly one of them.

“The coffer dam was time driven in that we had to finish it before the June 1st, and that was a critical part of our programme to stabilise the rest of the development. We have achieved that so going forward we are good to go. It is very exciting and we are very pleased.”

Work continues to progress on programme with the infill works to the cofferdam and the foundations to the building now underway.

Construction workers are in the process of using 12,500 tons of stones to raise the area of riverbed at the site to ground level before foundation work begins.

In total, the steel piles used to create the cofferdam spanned a combined length of 1.8 miles.

The first tower crane will be erected on site in July with the second and third following in August.

That month, the skyline will begin to change as the internal concrete core walls of the buildings are constructed. Work on the external concrete walls starts in September.

Nearly 30 job opportunities for young people have already been created at the site. These include new starts by people who were previously unemployed, redundant or who have completed registered training programmes, as well as graduate and apprenticeship opportunities.

BAM attended a meeting organised by the Scottish Government’s partnership action for continuing employment (PACE) team aimed at finding work for former Muirfield Contracts employees was held at Dundee College in March.

Paul McFarlane and Dawn Lennard

Paul McFarlane and Dawn Lennard

One of the people to benefit from the event was surveyor Paul McFarlane from Dundee.

He said: “I was really excited when BAM offered me this great opportunity. To work on a project as prestigious as the V&A and in my home town is something that I could not turn down.

“BAM were present at the event hosted by PACE and held at Dundee College so I handed in my CV and was offered an interview shortly afterwards. Thankfully for me things happened quite quickly as I was only out of work for about four weeks in total.”

Dawn Lennard, site administrator, who is also a former Muirfield employee, added: “The opportunity came when BAM called me following the PACE event. The V&A is my very first project with BAM and to be involved with such a unique development is absolutely amazing. I am very fortunate to be involved in this project and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”

Philip Long, director, V&A Museum of Design Dundee, said: “We are thrilled at the progress and pace of work in the first three months of construction. The project really comes to life when you see the form of the building marked out on site. It will be hugely exciting for all of us to watch its striking physical shape emerge over the coming months and years up to opening.

“V&A Dundee will be a world-class design museum for Scotland, a place that will inspire and delight hundreds of thousands of visitors from Dundee and far beyond. It will host exhibitions, events and programmes that will celebrate design achievements and innovation in Scotland and the world – a place we can all be proud of.”

The building is due to be complete by December 2017, opening in 2018.