Interview: project managers René Verbeek and Paul Halkes

Erasmus University Rotterdam

For quite some time now, Erasmus Facility Services (EFB) have been busy drawing up grand plans for Woudestein’s ‘Campus under Construction’. René Verbeek and Paul Halkes have the honour to be in charge of the first two projects to get underway.
René has been working for EFB for about eight years now, and is project manager for Temporary Housing. Paul, who has been working for EFB for roughly twenty years, is project manager of the C-building, which is to be restored under his direction.

René started out with Technical Services. ‘A few of the things that I have done as a project manager are the J-building and the technical installation of the boiler house.’ His colleague Paul started out at EUR as a technical draughtsman. A selection of the projects he has run as a project manager are the Auditorium or Aula (A-building), the district heating project, and the G-building’s lecture halls. ‘The project that René and I worked on together was the A-building. These two projects we run individually, but of course there is a lot of mutual consulting going on.’

René’s project Temporary Housing took off in the middle of November on parking lot P1. Because of the C-building’s restoration in June 2011, alternative premises are needed for its lecture halls and shops. The temporary housing will be situated on part of P1. ‘In May, the shops will have moved there, and in June or July, the lecture halls will follow.’  Grinning: ‘I’ll enjoy the challenge!’

René started preparing his project over the summer. The design was made together with the architect, Gerard Frishert. René extensively consulted the shopkeepers, and in the Institutenlaan, he oversaw the moving and replacing of pipes and cables. The latter mainly belonged to the university library. He also had frequent meetings with various services owners, such as ICT, cleaning and technical services. ‘In the end, that’s where the info is to be had.’

Paul can get going on C as soon as René has finished – June 2011. His preparations started as early as April 2009. Together with the architect, he did some preliminary surveys. Also, he started up three working parties – for technical, user and facilities requirements. ‘After 13 December, when the contract will be awarded, we can get down to the nitty-gritty. Contract supervision will be done by ABT, a big construction bureau. They’ve handled restorations before. When it’s going to be ready? Well, there’ll be lectures again in the C-building come September 2012. So, it’ll be done by the end of August of that year.’

During the restoration, the C-building will be stripped down to its concrete core. The façade will be cleaned; it will get double glazing, insulation, and new, energy-efficient installations with increased capacity. Paul: ‘The installations are so big, the only place to fit them on is the roof. The roof, incidentally, will be green – all highly sustainable. The layer of succulents on the roof will retain water, which results in a better indoor climate. This cuts down on energy use.’

Both René and Paul are happy about the preparations of each project, for which extra time was taken. As a result, they were able to spot a lot of potential risks in advance. ‘We’ve got a good feeling about the whole thing.’ Thanks to René, the users of the buildings can get on with their work without noticing too much of the works. And in his turn, Paul’s work ensures that the lecture halls can be used for another thirty-odd years. The two men are of one mind when it comes to the importance of their projects: ‘Lectures must go on as usual!’