Experts pouring their expertise into Man Of Steel

Some of the men behind the MoS sculpture
Some of the men behind the MoS sculpture
Have your say

How to transform a 30cm bronze sculpture into a towering 30-metre high steel edifice weighing in at 35 tonnes on an unstable landfill site on a Kimberworth hill...

That giant task has met by two local companies recognised as centres of excellence.

Sheffield-based Mott MacDonald, a global civil engineering practice operating in over 140 countries, has pitted its skills with those of high performance design engineers Performance Engineered Solutions have pitted their skills free of charge, taking the Man Of Steel from ‘drawing board’ to a workable reality.

Says sculptor Steve Mehdi: “The intelligence that has gone into this project is amazing. The experts have worked out that the total weight of the statue and observation deck will be 100 tonnes. The steel man alone will weigh 35 tonnes.

“Ian Besford, the structural engineer at Mott MacDonald, has been there all the way. He really understands the technical challenges the project faces and it adds huge kudos to have a company like Motts on our team,” adds Steve.

“He has teamed with talented duo Dan Fleetcroft and Mike Maddock at PES Ltd to determine the best method of construction and loadings.

“The stainless steel panels for the 20-metre tall figure alone will weigh 35 tonnes. The supporting steelwork inside the figure will way about 25 tonnes and the building will weigh about 40 tonnes. This will be supported by 20 metres of foundation pilings into landfill down to bedrock. The design for the 600-tonne concrete foundations is very innovative, requiring them to be ‘lined’ as their poured.”

The sculpture and visitor centre it is hoped with create a landmark gateway to Yorkshire and the Sheffield City Region inspired Ian from the off: “Initially we worked with the land owner and the Environment Agency to develop the foundation design needed to gain planning consent. Now we are working with other members of the team to design the structure inside the pedestal and the man of steel itself,” he comments.

“The main reason we are involved is because Man of Steel is a project which could capture other people’s imagination as it has done ours and inspire children to consider a career in the technology and engineering industry.”

Performance Engineering Solutions, based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park, are used to problem-solving and have contributed their design engineering expertise to the design of the stainless steel panels which, once cast, will form the figure of the Man of Steel sculpture itself. It is working with Mott MacDonald​ to ensure the critical loading measurements and the build quality meet the high demand for accuracy the project’s success depends on.

Says Mike Maddock: “Vince Middleton at Newburgh Engineering introduced us to the Man project. We loved it because it embraces both past and future of the region and believe it will ensure the public understand that engineering is no longer about dirty overalls. It’s about high precision. We need more apprentices to drive things forward and this project could help greatly.”

The Man’s two 2.5 tonne hearts, a fund-raising scheme to which anyone can donate £20 and have their name, or that of a loved one, engraved onto them, was Mike’s brainwave. “I thought it was a hugely symbolic way of enabling ordinary people to be part of this project,” he says.

A third generation Sheffield company, Maher Ltd of Brightside Lane, have pledged tonnes of the costly nickel-based metal for the hearts.

“The cost is significant but there is a huge sentimental reason for our involvement. The company feels the sculpture mirrors exactly Maher’s values and we absolutely believe it will be a celebrated part of the landscape of South Yorkshire for generations to come,” said Donna Saul, managing director at the steel and nickel-based stockholding and engineering company on Brightside Lane.

“Our employees are very proud of what we are doing and we hope to get involved in similar iconic structures of the future.”