We hear lack of trophy space might steal Foster + Partners’ Stirling prize ‘triple’, the Lib Dems get a single round of applause, firms gear up for word on the future of Help to Buy, and flora flourishes among construction’s fauna mate?

Hansom new 2008

Short memory

Loyal readers may remember that Foster + Partners is rather particular about the number of gongs it has amassed during its 50-odd years in business. Following its recent Stirling prize win for the Bloomberg building, it can add another to the collection of 865 awards it has picked up. Foster has won the prize twice before, in 1998 and again six years later. But my hacks tell me that the roll call of winners on the Stirling trophy only goes back to 2008. Does this mean we should scratch two off the Fosters tally?

Hey, good-looking

Building columnist and former Stirling prize winner Sadie Morgan found herself next to housing secretary James Brokenshire at the event in north London. I’m told she ribbed him that he wasn’t quite as attractive as his counterpart in Ireland, Eoghan Murphy, whom she had also found herself sitting next to a couple of weeks back. It’s not clear what Brokenshire’s response was but the ribbing probably didn’t do much to enhance Anglo-Irish relations at this delicate time …  

Clap happy

To the House of Commons for the launch of Gleeds’ new construction app, where guest speaker Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb singled out chairman Richard Steer as the only person to clap when he made his way to the podium. There was a time when we were all applauding the Lib Dems, but that seems a long time ago now.

Flower power

Also in attendance at the Gleeds bash was Make’s Ken Shuttleworth. My hack was speaking to a couple of architect types who’d been invited along, and were turned out in white shirts and dark blazers. “To be honest, I thought about wearing a floral shirt but I was worried I might end up putting Ken out,” sighed one. Sure enough, at the other end of the room Shuttleworth floated around in a beautiful floral number, a beacon among a sea of pallid corporate attire.

We’re on our way to …

News that Spurs’ opening game at its new ground is not going to be next month’s clash with its west London rivals, high-flying Chelsea, and instead might be against less than glamorous – and more lowly – Burnley prompted one industry wag to observe: “At least they’ve got more chance of opening it with a win.”

Lost for words

Ahead of Monday’s Budget, firms are honing their PR strategies to furnish us scribes with cut-and-paste quotes. A draft from one, who shall remain nameless, was ruminating on what to say about Help to Buy, the government’s finance initiative – loved by housebuilders but loathed by some for fuelling executive pay – which is expected to get a mention by chancellor Philip Hammond. “Not sure what the HtB proposals are,” the draft ran. “Something about developers increasing their profits rather than providing sought-after homes.” With masterful understatement, it added: “Not sure we can word it quite that way though.”

The new rock’n’roll?

Procurement reform, though important, is rather a niche topic. So imagine my colleague’s surprise on turning up to a debate on the subject with minutes to spare only to find her way into London’s Building Centre blocked by a queue of keen young trendy types spilling onto the pavement. After a few moments of confusion it turned out the throng was awaiting New London Architecture’s launch of the Housing Design Handbook by architect Levitt Bernstein. My hack quietly went through a side door – passing NLA bigwig Peter Murray on the way – to a much less excitable bunch of procurement enthusiasts.

What are you doing in 2098?


One of my hacks was whisked off to Sweden last week by Swedish timber operation Södra and got to plant a spruce sapling in a forest belonging to the group in the south-west of the country. The bods from Södra – admittedly with tongues wedged firmly in cheeks – told the gathered hacks they were welcome to come back and see the trees they planted when they were fully grown. Which was very kind, but since a spruce reaches maturity after 80 years it’s highly unlikely that anyone in attendance will be around by then. Still, that’s what I call investing in the future.

Send any juicy industry gossip to hansom@building.co.uk