How does The Hub approach the fit-out of a new exhibition?

With excitement! Each project is unique and therefore from its identification to completion we are constantly thinking about how The Hub, working with the client and professional team, can deliver the highest quality visitor experience.

What are the main principles you adhere to when delivering an exhibition design project?

Delivering on time and on budget through the detailed management of programme, budget and project risk. Health and safety, the environment and quality are all critical to this and we ensure the correct resources are in place to deliver against these key performance indicators.

How does The Hub implement and take forward the designs for a new exhibition?

The Hub has a very skilled management team, many, including myself, with design backgrounds. This allows us to work with and not against the design team through development, coordination and setting out of their designs utilising our in house design technicians and knowledgeable production team. Communication is critical and we work face to face with all parties to ensure the clients vision and the interpretative design is delivered to the highest quality.

China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors at World Museum, Liverpool. Designer - Liverpool Museum. Image © Gareth Jones. Exhibition runs until 28 October 2018

What skills, experience and facilities does The Hub provide for the fit-out of an exhibition design project?

As a board of directors myself, Ed [Hadley, Director, Commercial and Contracts], Phil [Wooderson, Director, Project Management] and Richard [Coughlin, Director, Estimating and Production] have over 75 years experience of delivering projects to the heritage, arts, museums and culture sector. Our project and cost managers are all sector trained with many working in the sector from their first working day. Our design technicians know how to communicate with our own specialists and client direct contractors to ensure a fully coordinated exhibition. At our premises in the West Midlands we have state of the art production facilities that allow the accurate machining of components through to high quality finishes whether solid surface or high gloss water based spray.

How do these processes/skills set you apart?

Unlike other companies of a similar size, we at The Hub focus 100% on the heritage, arts, museums and culture sector. As Managing Director I, nor any of the team, have the distraction of another sector, a bespoke production department or internal design team to manage.

Refurbishment of Rooms 30 and 31 at the National Portrait Gallery Designer. Photograph by Nick Smith © National Portrait Gallery

What creative input do you have on a project?

We like to think a lot, but not in creating a concept, that’s a designer’s job! Our creativity comes from years of experience in the sector and delivering a variety of projects which allows us to bring creative solutions to deliver the clients vison and the designer’s concept. Projects such as ‘The Plays the Thing” for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the “RAF Centenary Transformation Programme” has seen The Hub deliver multi million pound projects from concept to operation utilising design and build contracts with our work being continually reviewed by the concept designer.

What are the main challenges in fitting out an exhibition and how do you overcome these while keeping to time and budget?

Currently the biggest challenge in the sector is meeting the project budget at tender. It is now the norm for projects to require value engineering either before or post appointment. Unfortunately the process of value engineering puts pressure on the project programme. At The Hub we offer a no obligation service to clients and their professional teams to develop schemes to a budget. If this offer was accepted by more organisations we believe that thousands of pounds would be saved throughout the sector though reduced management time, preliminaries and the costs associated with expediting works on site.
Once a project budget has been finalised against an agreed design most challenges have been faced, whether it be working in a live project environment, installing large objects or meeting non negotiable opening dates.
A unique challenge however was replicating two full sized “Six Inch Breech Loading Mark XII Guns” for HMS Caroline in Belfast. These replicas were to have the look and feel of the real thing and were based on historical information. Craning them on to HMS Caroline managing wind and tide was a challenge!

How do you ensure the smooth running of a project?

It’s quite simple really, strong relationships and communication. We believe we have strong relationships with our clients, their professional teams and our specialist supply chain. Through regular and honest communications all parties know their responsibilities at each phase of the project and this ultimately leads to a high quality visitor experience and long term sustainable relationships for The Hub.

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