Global engineers Mott MacDonald have been working closely with a team of design experts to turn one man’s vision into reality;
Structural engineers at Mott MacDonald are developing a project build plan which will help to identify the best approach for preparing the land, building the column and Interpretation Hub, and erecting the Yorkshire Man of Steel. This landmark project has faced many challenges over the last few years and undergone a transformation in the process. Originally conceived as a scaled up stainless cast version of Steve Mehdi’s impressive sculpture, the Man of Steel has been radically redesigned, and will be fabricated from precision engineered stainless steel panels supplied from Outokumpu Stainless Distribution (UK), from Sheffield.
Creating a 32 metre landmark artwork requires detailed planning from the drawing board right through to construction – and a group of experts up to the task. SH Structures are one such company, a multi-disciplinary fabricating firm with a portfolio of work that includes; The Cutty Sark restoration scheme; Heathrow T5; and more recently a 30 metre landmark art project in Falkirk called The Kelpies . The engineering expertise that The Kelpies demanded made them an ideal choice when it came to choosing a company to help build the Yorkshire Man of Steel.
Major landmark sculptures – such as the Angel of the North, and The Kelpies – often take several years to reach completion, owing to the huge (literally) engineering design work needed, and the funding required. A flexible approach comes in handy when the design suddenly changes, or the numbers don’t add up. Big projects often require a bold approach, but it also needs a team who understand each other. A number of critical processes need to take place before building work can begin, including; public consultation, conversations with the Environment Agency, Highways Agency, Local Authority Planning department and land owners. These conversations nearly always start with a basic concept that escalates into a collaborative vision. Funding can be another long term challenge – that can take years – and requires determination and a focussed approach.
The original idea for The Yorkshire Man of Steel came from one person, but the support for this ambitious project now numbers many thousands of people, each with a story of their own to add to the ones already written. Localism is a key element in its delivery; invaluable local skills and local materials which will define the project and create a totemic icon recognising the heritage of the past and heralding a new future for the region, and future generations.