Willmott Dixon to build home for Met Office super computer

Just weeks after handing over one of the world’s leading satellite testing facilities at Harwell Science Campus in Oxfordshire, Willmott Dixon’s presence in the science and technology sector has further increased with a £20 million contract to build a home for the final part of the Met Office's new supercomputer. 

Located at Exeter Science Park, the supercomputer will enable the Met Office to run more sophisticated weather and climate models which assist the UK’s resilience to extreme weather events. These improved observations, science modelling and physics will also unlock better forecasts and advice to support economic growth, prosperity and competitiveness.  

Dave Underwood, Met Office Deputy Director for the High Performance Computing Programme, said:

“High performance computing is an essential component of everything the Met Office does and the first phase of the new supercomputer is already operational, five weeks ahead of schedule.  

“It’s going to be exciting to see this new facility at the Science Park becoming a reality. It brings the vision of a world-leading centre of environmental science prediction in the south-west and improved UK resilience to high impact weather another step closer.” 

Labelled a "world class asset" by Exeter City Council chief executive Karime Hassan, Willmott Dixon will build the facility to house the final part of the supercomputer over the next 14 months at the Science Park, adjacent to the Met Office.  When fully operational in 2017, it will provide additional capacity for the Met Office’s existing high performance computing programme. 

The Met Office procured the new facility through Scape Group’s National Major Works framework, one of six frameworks offered by Scape, and Willmott Dixon will work with architect Stride Treglown, services engineer Arup and structural engineer WSP to deliver it. 

Neal Stephens, managing director for Willmott Dixon in the South West says, “This will be another important asset to our country’s technology sector, providing us with one of Europe’s biggest supercomputers inside an iconic building that we will create. We are very proud to be playing such an important part in this project; it further compliments our skill-set for building science facilities that make us a world leader in this sector.” 

Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, added:

“The Met Office’s new supercomputer is exactly the sort of high tech investment that the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point was designed to attract. Siting it at the Science Park will strengthen the economic growth of the area and act as a real catalyst in driving job growth and private sector investment.” 

Issued by ESP 7 September 2015

For all enquiries regarding the Met Office supercomputer, please call the Met Office (press office) on 01392 886655.

For enquiries about Exeter Science Park please contact Gerry Shattock on 01392 72 2226 or visit the website www.exetersciencepark.co.uk