Week 7

Monday (23/2/2015)

British Life and Culture class with Professor Hertz.

Professor Hertz took us to the Imperial War Museum to explore the World War I and World War II galleries. The museum tells the stories of people’s experiences of modern war and conflict. We got to see different machines that were used during the war such as the Harrier jet and Mark V Tank. Most of the galleries told people’s stories and how they lived during the war. We got to see how soldiers lived their lives and the different weapons that they used.

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Tuesday (24/2/2015)

Royal Institute Chartered Surveyors

Our morning started with touring the RICS building and seeing a great view of Big Ben from the roof. We got a very informative presentation from our hosts. First of RICS promotes and enforces the highest professional qualifications and standards in the development and management of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure. Richard Stokes gave us a brief history of RICS. In the UK, RICS is very recognizable amongst the surveying profession. In U.S terms, a surveyor is close to what we’re studying as Construction Science majors. Richard discussed the benefits of becoming a RICS member, which gives you status, recognition, market advantage, knowledge, and you expand your network. If you’re in a university you can take a RICS accredited degree and then you become an APC via graduate Route 1 and become a MRICS member. This is one of the many routes that Nigel Sellars discussed to become a RICS member. Julian Davis is a MRICS member and is a manager director at Earl Kendrick Associates have us his testimony of his journey into the profession of a surveyor. Julian mentioned the different advantages of MRICS and how it’s a big network opportunity and how he’s become successful. Neil Shah is the managing director in the U.S, which was interesting to find out that RICS is trying to expand. Neil told us how we could get involved back in the States and it was just a great opportunity to get to network with our hosts.


After our visit with RICS, Claire Gilbert gave us her presentation over the St. Paul’s Cathedral. Her presentation was full of fun facts and very informing.


After Claire’s presentation we headed to our next visit with CBRE. CBRE is commercial property consultants that advise clients. They work with occupiers, investors and developers of office, industrial and logistic, residential, retail and hotel property. They provide strategic advice and execution for property sales and leasing; tenant representation, corporate services; facilities, property and project management; appraisal and valuation; development services; investment management; energy and sustainability services, and research and consulting.

Wednesday (25/2/2015)

Construction Science Law Classes with Professor Rodgers

We started off class with a discussion of what we have learned or retained over the past few weeks in our many tours we have had. We were mainly reviewing for our final exam. Professor Rodgers discussed how we have to know how to read a contract, which we are since he has embedded unto us the many law terms there is. As long as we know the different law terms we should be set in reading a contract.

Thursday (26/2/2015)

Crossrail Visit


It was exciting to see the construction site of the Crossrail specifically in Paddington station. Paddington is one of Crossrail’s central London station. The new underground station is being constructed next to the existing mainline terminus, connecting Crossrail with national mainline services and the current London Underground station that is served by four lines. The Crossrail station will be just 3m from the historic mainline station, which opened in 1854, and next to the London Underground terminus that was the world’s first underground railway station when it was built in 1863. When Crossrail opens in 2018, up to 24 trains per hour will operate during peak times between Paddington and Whitechapel.


URS is the lead design consultant for Paddington. The role includes detailed design of the new underground station and its connections with existing mainline and underground services. The station is 264m long, 25m wide, 26m deep cut and cover box. Crossrail is among the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK. From improving journey times across London, to easing congestion and offering better connections. The main contractor in Paddington station is Costain Skanska JV and they’re expecting to finish on time.


After our Crossrail visit we headed to another tour visit, Bromley by Bow North. A land use and design brief for the Bromley-by-Bow area was produced by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation working in partnership with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the Greater London Authority and Design for London. The proposed Masterplan will have 741 units, parking, and commercial uses.



Week 6

Monday (16/02/14)

British Life and Culture Class with Alan Hertz.

The main topic covered was the history of transportation in London. To begin, our class was asked the question, “what makes a city a city”. A city depends on selling goods for something in exchange, a trade. This depends on a way of moving or transporting the goods. In the 1600s the main source of transportation were by water. Road were still used, but were rough and dangerous to travel on. For easy travel through water, many people traveled along the coast to avoid getting lost. Since water transportation was so important, large political units were built around water. In the late early 1700s, farmers wanted a direct road to the nearest towns. The need for an active parliament arose to help fund and build the roads. This lead to the idea of turnpikes, where travelers were charged to use the roads. These road were very important for people, products, postal service, mail orders, and the business of Inns. In the 1800s the urbanized stagecoach was invented. It was call the omnibus (Latin for everybody), and were pulled by horses. This was the first time there was a cross of different classes of people socializing. Around the mis 1850sHorse trams pulled more people, they were like horse buses, but ran on rails. Two horses could pull a heavier vechicle more easily on smooth iron than on a uneven road. Trams were therefore much larger than buses, carrying nearly twice as many passengers. This allowed operators to reduced fares, but still make a profit. Thousands of working horses populated Victorian London. Operating a bus or tram for a single day required at least six changes of horse, twelve horses per vechilce every day. By 1900 London’s public transport relied on about 50,000 horses. Horses had to be stable, fed and cared for. Or a transport operator they were the most expensive part of the business. A working horse has a carefully mixed diet that included hay, oats, maize, corn, and bran. It was very important to lookafter the horses properly. Without them, there were no services and no paying passengers. In the mid 1800s the the 1st steam powered passenger trains, the Puffin and the Rocket, were built by the Stevenson family. Steam engines were first used to pump water out of mines, then used to pull coal out of mines. The inventions of cars was not as revolutionary as canal or rail. Also car were only own by the wealthy. The first 20 years of the car era, there was a law which stated someone need to be 50 yards in front of the car with a red flag to warn other travels. The main idea for transportation was people wanted a reliable, fast, safe, cheap way to travel.

Another topic Professor Alan Hertz touch on was education in London. Education in Europe is more specialized, meaning by the age 16 you need to realize what you want to do. During the ages of 12-16 you take “specialist” classes to prepare you for National Exams. The only grades that effect you are your exam grade. There are informal grades , but have no value. During high school years you only take 3 or 4 subjects based on what you specialized in. If you want to attend a college or university, a student takes an extra year (year 13).  Normally in the US a student must take 14 years, and 4 years of college. However in Europe students are enrolled for 12 years, then an extra year if they plan to attend a university, and must take 3 years in college. Also in the UK a public school is considered a private school, and a state school is called a public school.

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Tour of the Transport Museum

A Reliable motor bus that could cope with London’s traffic condition did not exist in 1900. Horses still worked better than any of the early motor vehicles. Buses with petrol engines, paraffin-fired steam power and even hybrid petrol-electrics all appeared on the streets , most did not last long.

Tuesday (17/02/14)

IBI Group – Architects

87-91 Newman Street, London W1T 3EY


Our morning tour was to visit the IBI office. Which was across from the project demolishing the old Royal Post Building. IBI Group, which was established in the 1970s focus on construction project dealing with health care, education, science, and peacemaking (public sector).  The company’s expertise are in intelligence, buildings, and infrastructure. The intelligence originates from improving system designs and software development.  They have extensive research on the sensory impacts of learning environments. Depending on what their project is, they design the building to have an aesthetic appearance parallel to the function of the building. They also incorporate bioficulor design in the majority of their projects. The building sector includes, building architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, transportation, and civil engineering. They utilize PFI contracts, PVP, Pier 5, and NEC3 Option 3 in their projects. Also they are mostly funded by private sectors. Last their focus in infrastructure involves planning, urban design, landscape architecture, transportation, and civil engineering. IBI incorporates the environment with their construction, trying to make the building fit in with the rest of its surroundings. IBI aims for salutogenic designs in all of their projects.

IBI gave a presentation over one of their current projects, the New South Glasgow Hospital. It will be one of the largest critical hospitals in the UK. IBI is using a PFI contract on this project to meet all performance levels. The most cranes used on this site at one time was 16 tower cranes. All of the concrete was poured on site. They are working with 12 different major contractors. Two things I found very fascinating about the New South Glasgow Hospital were IBI use of AGV in the hospital and the use of an ETFE roof. AGV, states for automatic guided vehicles. They are programed to transport lintels and drugs through underground tunnels to the hospital utilizing a pallet conveying system. They work 24/7 and never get bored. The other innovation I found appealing was IBI’s decision to use an ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) roof instead of a glass roof. Compared to glass, ETFE is lighter, more effective in light transmission, and durable. Which all have a great effect on reducing the overall cost of the building.

Neil Murphy (Studio Principal), one of the presenters, taught us to be a salesperson when dealing with construction. Also relationship are key. Last to learn all aspects of the project.

Tour of the U.S. Embassy

Ponton Road London SW8 5BA



Our tour guide was Jordan Caddick (electrical manager) who was a graduated from Texas A&M in 2005 with an electrical engineering degree. To get clearance to enter the Embassy was a hassle. Passport information was needed and each individual’s background was checked. No electronic devices were allowed through security, for safety reasons. During the tour we asked many questions, but only few could be answered.  The main goal of this Embassy was to make it different from the others. They did not want it to look like a fortress, they wanted a more eco-friendly aesthetic appearance. Three things I found interesting were their use of slurry walls, the CHP system, and the perimeter walls. Slurry walls is a technique used to build reinforced concrete walls in areas of soft ground close high ground water. First a trench is excavated to make a form for each wall, then filled with slurry. Slurry prevents from walls collapsing by providing pressure outwards, balancing the inward hydraulic forces. After cement is pumped in and since cement is denser than the slurry, the slurry is natural pumped out. The CHP system is a simultaneous production of heat and electricity from a single source/system. This means that the heat and electricity generated can be used in the building extremely efficiently because there is no energy wastage or loss during transportation to another site. The last interesting thing to me was the perimeter walls around the Embassy. There were two kinds of barriers, a ram wall, and a climbing wall.  These are to protect any threat to the Embassy.


Wednesday (18/02/14)

Construction Law Classes with Professor Steve Rogers

In class we discussed and reviewed Ch. 18 in the Common Sense Construction Law textbook. The main topic covered was project risk. Three subtopics were; contracts (the agreement between two parties), Parties (need to be qualified), and Risk Shifting (Indemnities). Risk shifting is very important in distributing and limiting the liabilities. Two main ways to risk shift are through contracts and insurance. Contracts help state what the coverages are (the risks that are insured), who is the additional insured, and if there are any exclusions (risks that are not covered by the insurance). In construction the three main types of Insurance are Business Risk (insurance that protects from failed project and the 1st party), Commercial General Liability (liability insurance” from injuries, property damage, and completion of projects.), and Errors & Omissions (in the construction industry mainly protects architects and engineers from their own negligence, error, or mistake. “Malpractice insurance”). There are two subtopic that fall under Commercial General Liability, Occurrences and Claims made. Occurrences are damages originating from a third party claims made are normally chosen when occurrence coverage is not available or too expensive. Two main characteristics: specify by a reactive date, and claims need to be made during policy period.

We also study an incident of the failure of Lowes retaining wall, and discussed who the liability is placed upon. Then we did an exercise over the summary of a contract. The four sections we divided the contract into were 1. Persons, Purpose, and Project 2. Payment 3. Performance Problems 4. Problem Resolution

Thursday (19/02/14)

White & Case LLP – Attorney Anthony White (Presentations on Role of Law in Construction & Engineering and Dispute Resolution in Construction & Engineering Projects)

5 Old Broad Street London EC2N 1DW


Our Presenter today was Attorney Anthony White, from White and Case. The main topics he discussed were projects and dispute work, and standard form contracts. The standard form contracts UK mostly utilizes are JCT, NEC, FIDIC, and ICC. 80% of the contract in the UK are JCT documents. Attorney Anthony White also talked about statutes of adjudication and the difference procurement types for construction. FIDIC favors engineers, because they have the leading role. We learn that ICC dispute resolution is better than the AAA of the US. Another topic that was discussed was traditional procurement (the pictures above show the two main traditional procurements). The last topic Mr. White presented was issues causing disputes in construction and engineering.




RICS is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors by Parliament Square. We had the honor to listen to an amazing presentation by Allison Nimmo, who is the CEO of the Crown Estate. The inspiring speech was about how to be successful in the future and a how to grow within a team. One statement that I will remember is “we can move faster as an individual” and “we can go far as a group”. This conference meeting was a great place to network.

Friday (20/02/14)

Day Trip to Cambridge

Trinity College

Our study abroad group took an amazing trip to Cambridge on Friday the 20th of February. In Cambridge we had a tour guide show the history of the town. We went to all of the colleges, and other historic places. The colleges we toured consisted of, the University of Cambridge, King’s College, Trinity College, Clare College, Queen’s College, Downing College Corpus Christi College, and St. Catherine’s College. Trinity College is the largest college of the Oxbridge universities. Also Trinity was the college of Sir Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, Charles the Prince of Wales, and James Clerk Maxwell. At Trinity College there is a statue of Henry which used to hold a golden orb and a sword, but now hold a chair leg instead of the sword. Students now take the chair leg to continue the legacy.  Some notable alumni at Downing College are John Hopkins, John Cleese, and Michael Atherton. Some notable alumni at St. Catherine’s college are Harivanshrai Bachchan, Roger Harrabin, and John Ray. Also we went to the historic pub called the Eagle. The Eagle is a traditional English pub dating back to the 16th century. It boasts many historical features including the RAF bar with its world famous ceiling where members of the air force burn initial into the ceiling. Also the Eagle housed the room in which the ‘secret of life’ (DNA) was announced. This discovering was accomplished by James Watson and Francis Crick.


Week 5

These weeks just keep flying by.

Monday 2/09

You learn something new every day and this week’s British Life and Culture class discussed the Political and Economic System. It helps that our professor is originally from the United States, so he understands our confusion when people in Britain use the term “Unconstitutional” despite not having a written Constitution. We were also able to compare the differences in the campaign process for the upcoming parliamentary election versus presidential elections in the US. We talked about the evolution of England’s economic system and hit the streets for a closer look on our weekly walking tour. This week we explored the Docklands Museum which shows how Britain’s control over the oceans enabled them to be a world superpower using trade systems and mercantilism. Construction was an important factor for maritime success because the booming industry constantly demanded new ports that could handle larger ships.

Tuesday 2/10

We were graciously hosted at a site that had been visited by two Texas A&M Study Abroad groups while it was under construction, and it was amazing to see the finished project. Cannon Place was developed by Hines – a real estate investment, development, and property management firm that operates all over Europe and in the US. Cannon Place is one of a few projects in London designed with an exoskeleton which provides some support, but the skeleton is mostly to give the aesthetic impression that the building is being suspended in air. The building was designed to be cantilevered off of a building core without using columns on the floor bays. The project was built on top of a train station AND a subway system, so it had to be meticulously engineered in-house and the plans had to be sent out to a third party engineer for review.

Later than night we were invited to a meeting of the Construction Law Society discussing “giving rights to third parties.” The meeting talked about interpreting British laws and how they affect construction, specifically when working with contracts and indemnities. Thankfully, we had previously discussed several topics on the program in class.


Wednesday 2/11

On Wednesdays, Professor Rodgers lays down the law. This week we discussed initial risk management when qualifying projects, locations, and participants. We also did an exercise where we skimmed the local newspapers looking for examples of legal issues in the news. Believe it or not, the average Londoner is apparently more interested in One Direction’s struggling ticket sales than torts and contractual privity.

Thursday 2/12

Luckily we had Jessica with us on Thursday, our resident Tower of London expert. She gave us an excellent introduction to the fortress and outlined many of the interesting things to see, fun facts, and information about the history and construction of the monument. Soon after, we joined a group tour by the Beefeaters, the Royal Marine residents of the castle responsible for guarding the castle and guiding tours through their ancient home. Not only could the beefeaters have defended the castle against the small army, they were also very charismatic and took us through a thousand years of the castles bloody history telling shocking stories and cracking jokes like a whip. We were then free to roam the castle as we pleased, able to visit the fortress stronghold, tour the torture chambers and a museum of arms, and see the sights of the castle walls. One of the most wonderful places was the Jewel House, home to the royal crowns from various monarchs, the Royal scepter with its 630 carat Diamond, and a priceless collections of gold and jewels. It was amazing to see how a structure built long before modern materials and methods was able to withstand centuries, and the fortress serves as a testament to British precision and engineering.


Friday 2/13

As we learned earlier in the week, control of the ocean was an important factor in history that allowed Britain to become a dominant superpower in the world. There was still more to learn, so we hopped on a southbound train to Portsmouth. In the short time that we were in the coastal city we were able to see centuries of maritime history. We took a trip to The Point, an entrance to the harbor that was defended in WWII using a massive chain that stretched across the water and would destroy incoming enemy ships. The tension could then be let out to sink the chain and allow British ships to enter. We took a tour of Admiral Lord Nelson’s ship the HMS Victory, Britain’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where Lord Nelson was shot and killed and immortalized in history as the naval commander who defeated the French giving Britain control of the ocean and thus the world. We had time to tour the HMS Mary Rose Museum and the Naval Museum to see artifacts and learn more about Britain’s maritime history.

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Week 4

This past week has been another exciting week in the UK. We had the opportunity to visit a couple of Architecture firms here in London and also got to visit the marvelous Windsor Castle.

The first Architecture firm we had the opportunity RTKL who have offices all over the world and are involved in a variety of different projects. One project they talked about was the redesign of the 02 arena which is turning the giant covered area into a place filled with shopping restaurants and event spaces which will bring new life to an area which was once dormant. We learned a great deal about the architecture side of construction and how there are many factors that go into the design of a building the big ones in my opinion being functionality, look, and regulations in the area. That last part plays a big part in designing a building here in London. Since London is a city with history a lot of the buildings are antique and protected or listed as it’s called. This means that you cannot damage or change that building without special permission. And these rules will apply to buildings around a listed building which means a lot of areas have a certain look that designers must keep to. RTKL really opened my eyes on the amount of work that goes into designing a building from an architect’s point of view.

On Thursday we then visited a second architecture firm Carl Turner Architecture who are currently designing and building a really neat and innovative shopping center and living area. The project is called Pop Brixton and is a new community campus for startups and small businesses. It is located in Brixton which is a borough located southwest of downtown London. The purpose of this area is affordable rents for small business and startup shops. The use of shipping containers is a really innovative way to build a temporary building that looks unique and stylish. Later that day two of my classmates gave us tours of the buildings they chose to research over the winter break. Ethan gave us a tour of Big Ben while Michael gave a tour of Westminster Abbey unfortunately we didn’t get to go inside either building but the tours were still very interesting regardless. And to finish off the day we got to go to the Supreme Court and look around the court rooms.

Friday was they day we got to go to the famous Windsor Castle which was an amazing experience Sandy gave us a quick explanation about the history of Windsor Castle and then we were able to go inside and tour around the castle. We were even able to witness the changing of the guard ceremony which was a wonderful experience. Inside Windsor castle there is St. Georges Chapel, The State Apartments, and other areas to visit. The two main areas are the Chapel and State Apartments.

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I first visited St. Georges Chapel which is an Anglican chapel built inside the castle walls. The Architecture of the Chapel was incredible it had all the markings of a traditional perpendicular style. Inside the columns seemed to grow and spread into the ceiling which had wooden shields and crests of the various families on every intersection. Many kings and queens are buried inside the chapel including the infamous Henry the 8th. The next section in the chapel was the garter stalls. This is where the Knights of the Garter would meet. The Knights of The Garter are the members of the Order of the Garter which is the highest order of chivalry and is dedicated to St. George who is England’s patron saint. These knights are chosen by the queen who is also a member of the Order of the Garter and are members for life. The list of members is limited to the Sovereign (the queen), the Prince of Wales, and no more than 24 other members. Next I visited the State apartments which is where the queen will stay when she goes to Windsor for quiet weekends away this is also where she will entertain guests who come to visit the UK.

All in all this week was filled with very informative and exciting trips from office visits to castle visits and are excited to see what the future holds here in England.

Julian MacDonell

Week 3


Howdy y’all! My name is Sandy Vasquez, class of 2017. I will be sharing the details of our group’s endeavors of the past week.


Our week started off with an interesting site visit to the College of Arms building in London where coats of arms are created and kept track of for families. We were shown the processes of the restoration and conservation of the building’s interior decorative plaster finishes. We were also able to view the purple cushion that the Queen herself sits on when at Westminster Abbey.

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The College of Arms was followed by the usual Monday British Life & Culture class by Professor Alan Hertz. We discussed the history of social and religious eras throughout England’s history, including the impact they had on the rest of the world’s civilizations. With that, we were off to our weekly tour with Alan, beginning in Russell Square, as always, and finishing at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Along the way we learned of the famous annual goose marches that were for geese awaiting their doom prior to the holiday season. On the bright side, however, all geese were made specialized goose shoes so that their webbed feet would survive the asphalt path (how cute!). Alan spoke about the multiple ways which the same area that William Wallace (and plenty others) were executed was used, including jousting and even miracles! We made our way through historic brothel streets and passed the church which John Rolfe was buried at. Alan then discussed the unhappy life that he provided for Pocahontas and how little he cares for John Rolfe because of it. Totally in agreement. We made our way through the streets to find ourselves at a beautiful view of St. Paul’s cathedral.



Tuesday, we had a site visit at King’s Cross with Carillion. It is a growing development area with a lot of different project taking place simultaneously. The site we toured was of residential units. We were spoken to of the preconstruction process that the project manager was familiar with, discussing the similarities and differences between his and our experiences, even just as student we were able to discuss details of the processes required in the field, including inspections and BIM (Whoop COSC education). Carillion had one of the, if not the, cleanest sites we’ve visited. They also had the most security and safety precautions we’ve probably ever seen, with checkpoints at almost every street corner and fencing around all the sidewalks.



Professor Rodgers’ lecture took off as usual. We began by defining the differences between Actual, Assumed, and Apparent Agents in contracts, using construction contracts as examples between Owners, Design Professionals and Contractors. Professor Rodgers then gave each of us an entire newspaper to sift through and find related articles on trial cases or contracts, especially where things went wrong. We presented our different findings and discussed the details of each and the vocabulary used (very important). It is eye opening how much importance this class carries for the industry that all construction science majors are going to be exposed to.


On this especially cold and windy day, we visited with Faithful and Gould. They hosted us in the office, located in the Euston Tower in London, for a presentation. Lunch was included (yum!), followed by an exercise where we were meant to organize and plan the construction of an eco classroom, given certain specifications. We had a couple rough patches, trouble with meeting “deadlines” and keeping to the schedule, as well as constant changes to the classroom’s design (naturally). After surviving the “client’s” (our F&G hosts) bombardment of questions on our experience throughout the planning phase, we hopped on the tube and headed to one of their sites. We were shown the project under construction from the neighboring finished building that was being finished out on the inside by the new tenants. Then, the fun part: once we had our dose of construction, we walk down the street to a pub, where the company bought us at least one drink each. What a treat!

Y’all keep at the spring semester back home. There’s more to come from the few that spent this past weekend in Scotland!

Thanks and Gig ‘Em!


Week 2

Howdy from London! My name is Michael Krause and I will be updating you on our adventures from this past week.

Over the weekend, us students went to the London Olympic Park. We found ourselves “accidentally” at the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit after the cleaning staff left the gate open. We then found a wall where we could make drawings on it by changing blocks form white to black. When we saw this, naturally we had to do our job as Aggies and leave our mark on the wall.

Olympic Park

The week started of with a shock to us all, in our British Life and Culture class we found out that the London staple-fish and chips is not actually a London dish. Although the traditional-“fish and chips”-was first prepared in the United Kingdom, the idea to fry fish and potatoes came from different countries. The biggest shock of all was that the most common fish, the cod, is caught off of the Northeast coast of the United States and is then shipped here.

The day started early on Tuesday with a site visit to the Embassy Gardens construction site on the south bank of the Thames. Embassy Gardens is a multiple building high-rise luxury housing development located in the new “Embassy Corridor”. We received a thorough presentation on the design and preconstruction phases from the architects of the project. In the presentation we learned that the site was previously home to a gas plant and in the ground there was still unexploded ordnances from World War II. They explained that they had a high tech metal detector that would locate them; they were marked on a plan so that everyone knew where they were and then built the building around them. We then got a tour of the site from a civil engineer. We started from the top of the 250-foot building and worked our way down to some of the completed units, the pool, and the lobby.

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Wednesday was a relatively slow day. We had class and a guest lecture from a civil engineer, Dr. Attis. He talked to us about master planning and the sustainable construction practices used in Europe. Something that I have found interesting is that there is very little parking in the city. For example, a building with 400 apartments might have only 100 parking spots and the government will not let there be more than that so as to ease congestion in the city. The only way that this is possible is through the public transportation system here, which is excellent.

That leaves us with Thursday, our last class day for the week and it was a crazy one! The morning started off with our first site visit of the day at 9:00. This meant trying to navigate the tube (subway) during rush hour, which is almost the same as trying to get on an A&M bus during a class change. This site was the most interesting to me from a construction standpoint. The site was in central London remodeling a 1970s 7-story building. They had completely gutted the building, beefed up the infrastructure of the building, and added two more floors to the top.


After lunch in Trafalgar Square, we headed to our second site visit of the day at a mall. There we met with a group who was building out a 70,000 SF space in an active mall for their client, KidZania. It was a very unique project because it is a city built for kids called KidZania complete with stores, fast food, a fire department, town squares, a city hall, a full size airplane fuselage, and the list goes on. Everything is built 2/3 the normal size of any building, down to every door and brick on the outside of the buildings. When we were talking to one of the project managers he said that creating everything to scale was by far the most frustrating part of the project, adding over a year to the preconstruction phase of the project. Unfortunately, y’all can’t see this unique project until it opens later this year because the owner wants to keep it a secret; as a result we were not allowed to take any photos.

It has been an exciting week and I am looking forward to what next week holds. Next Friday few of us will be heading to Scotland for a long weekend. I hope y’all had a great first week of classes back in Aggieland.

Thanks and Gig’em

Michael Krause

First Week


“Howdy COSC from London!

     Professor Steve Rodgers makes this initial report to the Construction Science Department from London Study Abroad 2015 to advise you we are doing our best to represent you.
     We have had a huge first official week!  We started off Monday with our British professor, Allen Hirtz, delivering our first class on British Life and Culture.  That included a “walking tour” of the neighborhood where our classes are conducted.  He showed us the “ugliest building in London” which also survived the World War II bombings because Hitler wanted to use it as his headquarters in England after he won WWII, the “Building Centre” containing cutting edge building products in England, examples of the oldest residential subdivisions in London and finished at the British Museum to see the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Greece and the things brought back from the Looting of Benin after the “Benin Punitive Expedition” in the 1800’s.  Do any of you College Station folks remember the Empire of Benin?
     Tuesday Dr. Bill Addis, a legendary English civil engineer delivered a presentation on master planning of cities in Europe and included his involvement in the Olympic Village in London.
     On Wednesday Professor Rodgers initiated Texas A&M classes by logging into the arguments being conducted in “real time” before the Texas Supreme Court involving protection of property owners from suits by employees of contractors working on the owner’s property.
     Thursday we toured the Lloyd’s of London building and business.  And maybe most importantly this week, Professor Leslie Feigenbaum was visiting us in London and bought us dinner twice at his expense!
     Today I, (Rodgers) have had another big day. I went to a meeting with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors to arrange a meeting between their organization and our students. As an aside, I got there early and “toured” the area since it is next door to Westminster Abbey on Parliament Square. I stopped by St. Margaret’s church and visited. It is the “little church” by Westminster Abbey. There was a sign announcing the choral “Evensong” worship service at 5 so I thought about coming back. More about that later.  My intention was to stay “out on the street” all day.
     At my appointment I learned that RICS has nothing to do with “surveying” the way we think of it – they are construction managers, estimators and property valuation experts. It is a “kudo” students can get on their resume’ if they join the RICS and start angling toward becoming a member. RICS is “quite keen” about having its membership expanding to the U.S.  RICS is quite a sought after designation and the UK is hungry for those that have it. I learned today there is a great “skills shortage” in the construction industry in England so those U.S. companies that work internationally can really put good folks to work over here. It could make a difference to be a member of  RICS. I may even try it because there is a legal branch to RICS also!
     After RICS I went to find the place our male students are staying. They weren’t there but what I saw is quite nice. It is owned by Notre Dame for its own study abroad students. It is in a WONDERFUL location but the Notre Dame students may be getting “first dibs” on the rooms.  We’ll have to check into that and maybe get room assignments based on football (or basketball?) records.
     I left there and went to Notting Hill then walked to Portobello Market which is a huge street market selling everything imaginable.  The most interesting table I saw today in my limited visit was full of WWII German army helmets.  Later, Greenpeace grabbed me to recruit me to serve on an anti-whaling ship and I had to fight them off a while. I told them I had to have approval from my University before I could join.
     By then it was getting late so I started working my way back to “Evensong”. It had been a beautiful day but a cold front hit with pouring rain. I had not taken my hat or umbrella and used a big newspaper and worked my way back over to the little church. THEN I found out that Evensong is in fact in Westminster Abbey and since it is a worship service it is free. I went in and got to not only sit in the choir loft I got to sit in the “Head Master’s Pew” because I was by myself. It was SO cool! And the music was beautiful. I just kept looking up at the ceiling and thinking that people have been worshiping there for 1000 years! I was right by the tombs of William Wilberforce and Isaac Newton. Afterwards I jumped the tube and got home pretty quickly.  Now I sit here wondering what the other people in College Station saw and did today?”
     Cheers and Gig’em