What could be more inspiring than tales of maidens saved, quests completed, silver steeds and mortal peril. But the terrifying beasts in Building’s office? Definitely just a myth

She’s with us
Laing O’Rourke’s aversion to the media spotlight is well known in the industry. But one example I’ve unearthed from a few years ago indicates previously unsuspected levels of paranoia. A female site manager working for the contractor won one of the National House Building Council’s “supreme awards” – a particularly notable achievement since she was the first woman ever to do so. However, I understand the response of Laing O’Rourke’s management was to ring up the NHBC and request in no uncertain terms that there be no press release issued. Apparently the media blackout was intended to prevent another contractor from snapping her up. Hmm. I trust I haven’t just inadvertently alerted any potential poachers …

Frozen out
You would be forgiven for thinking that one project that would have coped with the big freeze would be the £300m SnOasis scheme in Suffolk,which is supposed to provide the UK’s ski team with a training ground. Not so, it seems. Its developers were due to meet the council to discuss how and when the stalled project would start. But the wintry conditions meant key people were unable to make the summit. Sounds a bit flaky to me.

Ministry of Silly Names

Architect Gensler, working all over the Middle East and Russia as it does, is well used to bureaucratic quirks, but a recent experience surprised even the firm’s most veteran employees. The client for their new job in Baku, Azerbaijan, is the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Apparently the frankly threatening tone of the title is common across the former Soviet Union. Russia, for example has its very own, established by Yeltsin in 1994. But why would such a ministry need a firm of masterplanners to rescue them? It would appear that some of the buildings in the recent spate of construction were built without reference to the fact that Azerbaijan is in an earthquake zone. For once the ominous title might be appropriate.

Operation Mogadishu
Is David Adjaye the most intrepid architect in Britain? The Design Museum in London is showing an exhibition of Adjaye’s photographs of African capital cities, from Abuja to Yaoundé. It seems the architect, who was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, has now snapped every capital in the continent – well, all bar one. Sadly, he has been unable to visit Mogadishu in Somalia, owing to it having been governed for much of the past decade by warlords. But, not to be deterred, Adjaye has apparently now found a way in, which he is unwilling to divulge. Could it be that the warlords saw something in his masterplan for the Watford Cultural Renaissance that they liked?

Public image limited
Heritage fit-out firm Killby & Gayford is attempting to combat the “white van man” stereotype that has long dogged our industry. So what is this novel strategy for beating the public’s accusations of cowboy-builderism and for supporting the new image of professionalism and reliability the modern industry is attempting to transmit? Painting its vans silver, of course. Well, it’s a start I suppose.

Treated like animals
We were pleased to receive Paul Drechsler, Wates’ chief executive, at the Building nerve centre last week. Our editor Denise Chevin took the ebullient Irishman on a tour of the Building desks, during which he met, greeted and generally charmed each member of the team. He was particularly impressed with the collection of soft toys that the production desk acquired for a recent photo shoot (it’s a long story, but if you’ve read last year’s Good Employer Guide you’ll understand). “So, Denise,” Drechsler was overheard to remark, “this is your zoo and these are your animals!” At least, we think he was talking about the soft toys.