Fraser House, an iconic building located at the White Cross Business Park in Lancaster, underwent a remarkable transformation, evolving from a historic structure into a cutting-edge tech hub. This £1.5 million project, which commenced in May 2020 and concluded in February 2021, was spearheaded by Krol Corlett as the main/ principal contractor. The objective was to convert Fraser House into a dynamic nerve centre for Lancashire County Council’s digital and IT activities, in line with their digital strategy.
What we did
A Historic Transformation: Fraser House had previously served as office space for the NHS and the Council, with a focus on mental health management. However, the new project required a complete overhaul to align with the Council’s digital strategy. The initial phase involved the deconstruction of all internal walls and the removal of existing services, paving the way for a fresh, open, and modern office complex spanning three stories.
Architectural Vision: Collaborating with Lead Architect Lindsay Coane and Fit Out Architect Lorna Cleminson, Krol Corlett worked to deliver on the client’s vision. This included the creation of open spaces with glass pod offices, minimal stud partitions for kitchens and toilets, and the integration of state-of-the-art mechanical and electrical services while preserving the building’s character.
Complex Phasing: To ensure a seamless execution in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was divided into four phases. This allowed for work to progress concurrently and adhere to safety protocols. The four areas included the top floor offices, middle floor offices, front-of-house reception, and coffee area on the ground floor, as well as extensions and co-working spaces on the ground floor. Each phase dovetailed into the next, resulting in the completed Fraser House.
Challenges and Innovation: Operating in a bustling business centre, adjacent to NHS offices, presented coordination challenges. Regular meetings with the estate’s director ensured smooth deliveries, noise mitigation, and dust control to maintain a conducive working environment for NHS staff.
Unforeseen Obstacles: Early in the project, lead contamination was discovered on structural members, necessitating grit blasting and repainting to meet safety standards. This was achieved with minimal impact on the project timeline.
Preserving History: While modernising the building, it was essential to honour its history. The project preserved and presented the building’s steelworks, plaques, mill wall openings, and brickwork, maintaining their original appearance.
COVID-19 Response: The project unfolded during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting innovative safety measures. These included updated welfare facilities, segregation testing and tracing, cleanliness protocols, and a one-way system throughout the site. These practices set a benchmark for safety in subsequent projects during the pandemic, influencing Lancashire County Council’s future safety guidelines.
Fraser House’s transformation from a historical structure into a state-of-the-art tech hub is a testament to Krol Corlett’s ability to tackle complex projects. The building now stands as a vibrant centre for Lancashire County Council’s digital initiatives, offering modern working space for tech-based companies in Lancaster. This project not only honoured the building’s legacy but also showcased its character while meeting the needs of the community. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fraser House was completed on time and within budget, setting a precedent for safe working practices in volatile times.