Frank Trinchi, Steve McKimmie, Robert Galle and James Uttley

Meet the Plenary Health VCCC Project team

Published 30 March 2015

MELBOURNE, VIC – With the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre’s two bridges across Grattan Street linking the VCCC to the Royal Melbourne Hospital set firmly in place; we had a chat with the man responsible for the oversight of this complex piece of engineering.

Six years ago Steve McKimmie started at Grocon Constructors as graduate engineer.  The offer came just 12 months ago to move across to Plenary Health’s VCCC construction joint venture of Grocon PCL to coordinate and supervise the construction and installation of the project’s bridge links.

Steve’s role on this critical aspect of the VCCC involved: Developing and refining methodology, design reviews, tendering and awarding sub-contractor contracts, labour engagement, supervision of offsite fabrication works and the general coordination of works including the structural interface with the existing Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) and VCCC Project structures.

What were the most challenging aspects of the job?

The bridge works were external to the overall site, so coordination of activities involved various project stakeholders. A lot of unknowns within the RMH building structure, and working around their building services could be considered a daunting challenge at times, but for me that makes my job interesting and fun.  

The most challenging entity to coordinate the link bridge structural work with was the VCCC Project itself, with a massive quantity of deliveries impacted while working in their loading bays. This affected large volumes of work, crane operations, having to adjust daily methods/program to cater to the fluctuating requirements of such a large construction site during the final stages of their structure work, all while maintaining commitments to the other external parties.

What was the least challenging aspect?

That’s easy: The people. In general those I dealt with on both sides of Grattan Street were always helpful, reliable and understanding of those challenges involved.

The Capital Works team at RMH were helpful and attentive to the work, and contributed to identifying the best outcomes for some of our detailed methodology within the hospital.

Amongst the site team, our senior and site managers, with my work colleagues were always supportive of the decisions, commitments and efforts to achieve some of the large scale initiatives, such as deciding to lift the levels six and seven column structure as one large element. I’d like to acknowledge here Frank Trinchi, Robert Galle, and Paul DalPra with the rest of the site team for their guidance and assistance through the entire structure process.

How did it feel when you saw the first bridge being lifted into place?

On the day it took a couple of hours to be able to step back from the final checks and coordination, and be able to soak in the scale of the activity. I was pretty happy at this point to be involved. I was fairly comfortable that it would work after hours of checking and measuring everything, but you never can be actually 100 per cent free of some nerves, so it was a relief to see the final bolts installed.

The successful install of the first bridge in August 2014 was an invigorating kick start to the more perplexing Level six and seven bridge and column structural works.

What did you learn?

To have confidence with your planning. A lot of the time I found myself wondering, “Well this all sounds good, but is it really that simple?” The answer a lot of the time was yes. You can’t let high risk deter you from simple, logical, step by step assessment, decision making and action. This is applicable to the entire process from procurement to construction.

I have learnt a lot also about the Royal Melbourne Hospital of course and their Parkville precinct partners, which has been an interesting insight to an industry I have had little experience with before now. 

What does the VCCC Project mean to you?

For me the VCCC Project is a great overall experience. From a professional development point of view I have been able to work with some very experienced and competent leaders and colleagues across various construction and management issues, some of which only present on such large projects. This is an experience enhanced by the fact that the project is a notable contribution to the field of medicine and research; it is very rewarding to be a part of. It is refreshing to hear that the bridge links in particular have been a focal point for this hospital district for some time, and I appreciate being given the opportunity to contribute to the delivery of this concept, and the impression it has on the Melbourne landscape. 

Image caption: From left: Frank Trinchi, Steve McKimmie, Robert Galle and James Uttley - all from Plenary Health's construction JV; Grocon PCL