‘Young Fit Out Designer of the Year’ - Fit Out Awards 2017

Neal Merry
MIEI B.Eng, Senior Mechanical Project Engineer

Summary

Neal is a 33 year old Mechanical Engineer who graduated with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street in 2007 and he has been working in the Building Services sector for the last 10 years. After graduating Neal began his career in Ireland but when the economic downturn occurred in 2008 he moved abroad for work.

Neal returned to Ireland in 2015 after reading Ethos Engineering’s advertisement for their “bring em home” campaign in the Irish Echo targeting all employees working abroad and encouraging them to return home. He started working for Ethos Engineering as a Senior Project Engineer, where he joined the team involved in the major development of the new Confidential Clients Head Quarters. The building is the larges t ever embarked for a single client in the state. Neal was firstly responsible for the lead mechanical design on the project but quickly took on the overall project lead for Ethos.

Neal is a senior member of Ethos’s internal technical team. His role within the team involves technical quality reviews of design projects, presenting to junior members on technical topics and workshops on technical issues with current construction projects. Neal is a trained Mentor and meets regularly with his mentees to share knowledge and career advice.

Neal is also a very active person; cycling across the city to work every day (in rain, sleet or snow), playing football in the office weekly 5 aside matches, part taking in the industry run charity cycles (Jones Engineering Barretstown House Charity cycle) and participating in the Ethos Social committee activities.

Project Highlights

Neal’s standout achievement for the last year has been his work on the new Confidential Clients Head Quarters in Leopardstown, Dublin. This building is the largest ever embarked for a single client in the state. The scale and the complexity of the project was unlike any other office building being constructed in Ireland. The contract cost of €140 million, occupation of 2,200 people and an overall building floor area was 35,000m² (377,000ft²) which was spread over 5x office floors and 2x basement levels.

The fitout of the office was a bespoke design with a number of areas not traditionally seen in a standard office fitout but would rival a conference centre. There is several large industrial kitchen facilities to services four restaurant areas, a coffee shop, a large scale conference area with 12 individual conference suites, purpose built gym & activities room, a wellness centre comprising of treatment rooms, yoga room and presentation spaces.

Neal worked on both the base building and fitout design teams. His primary role in both of the teams has been the lead Building Services Senior Project Engineer for Ethos Engineering. A significant challenge due to size of the project for Neal was to manage the services design for Ethos, coordination of the services with the other members of the design team, delivering a high calibre design to the client and fielding site enquires from the construction team. Neal overcame these by working closely with all the members of the design & construction teams and understanding their individual requirements for the best
commercial viable design solution.

The fitout vision for the building was a high quality finish design which also encompassed the mechanical and electrical services. Traditionally the mechanical and electrical services are hidden within the ceiling void above the ceiling however on this clients building the majority of the services are exposed. This required a different approach for Neal and the team which involved an intense review of the aesthetic look and feel of all the services used on the project. Many coordination workshops were conducted on the equipment and product selections with the architectural team in great detail but still maintaining standard compliance and functionality. An example of this was the selection of the identification labelling for the ductwork and pipework which Neal needed to satisfy the architectural team requirements but also be compliant with the industry standards and the future maintenance needs by the facility management team.

Since the fitout included such a wide arrange of facilities it called upon Neal’s experience from many other sectors to resolve design hurdles. An example of this is; the coffee shop had a large scale coffee roaster machine and one of the kitchens had a wood fire oven. These devices required a significant amount of air at a variable rate as part of their operation and dedicated exhaust systems to outside. Neal’s work within the Healthcare sector and specifically Laboratories aided in the final design solution for these devices and the air conditioning systems in the surrounding areas.

Innovation: The fitout required a high domestic hot water demand due to the extent of the kitchen and showering facilities. Neal offset the peak load by designing a 100m² evacuated tube solar thermal array to reduce the central plant capacity and dependency. Challenge: A challenge for Neal was to locate the volume of panels on the roof due to the high density of plant on the roof, maintaining orientation to the sun and also to minimise the visual impact from the neighbouring buildings as part of the planning requirement. Neal overcame this challenge by locating the array on the southern side of the roof and incorporating them into the plantroom cladding system.