Greg Barker reveals a key player in the Green Deal consultation process, WSP gets ready to grow up, Seddon hires an on-site poet and Crossrail is getting ready to show off a prehistoric bison

hansom for i pad

Taking the waters

Someone has clearly been getting on the nerves of Stephen Pycroft on Mace’s flagship London Bridge Quarter project. The contractor’s chief executive joked at the topping out ceremony for the Shard’s 17-storey sister building The Place this week that he had sometimes wished he could “emulate the Romans” and throw people off the project into the Thames, as the Romans once did with the River Tiber in Rome. Subcontractors and consultants take note, don’t cross Emperor Pycroft.

Go to your room

What can we expect from the soon-to-be-merged Anglo-Canadian consultant WSP Genivar? Well, according to the founder and chief executive of WSP Chris Cole, the two firms are going to do some growing up. Cole has compared the two firms to exuberant teenagers and says it is now time for the companies to “mature”. “It’s like how do you make a teenager a very sound adult without losing some of that energy and spirit,” he mused to one of my hacks. It is not clear whether this means Cole will have to keep the music down and tidy up his bedroom.

Put your bard hat on

A building site is possibly the last place you might expect to find a poet. But if you visit one of Bolton-based Seddon Construction’s sites you may come across writer Mike Garry - the company’s official poet-in-residence. Seddon believes it is the first UK construction firm to have appointed its own resident bard. Manchester poet Mike has been spending time at Seddon sites and offices in the North-west as part of a commission to capture the history of the company, which was founded in 1897. In my experience builders tend to be more prosaic than poetic so it’ll be interesting to see what Mike comes up with …

Museum pieces

Calling all history buffs - Crossrail is set to unveil its many archaeological finds in a special exhibition next month. Apparently the cross-London route - 21km of which is being built under the capital - has uncovered many notable items, including the remains of the infamous Bedlam psychiatric hospital, Roman remains and a prehistoric bison. Talks will be held at 11am, mid-day, 2pm and 3pm on 7 July by Crossrail contractors, engineer Ramboll and the Museum of London Archaeology at the Music Room in west London. Well worth a visit!

Pitching in

Building would like to wish HLM architect Caroline Buckingham and contractor City Building luck in their respective fundraising initiatives in Africa. Buckingham began her ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro this week, as part of a team aiming to raise £40,000 for Ian Mikardo High School in London - a school for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Glasgow contractor City Building has also got involved in an African charity initiative. The firm donated hard hats, high visibility vests, gloves and boots to schoolchildren travelling to Malawi to help build much-needed classrooms.

Barking policy


I was surprised to learn this week that energy minister Greg Barker brings his tiny dachshund Otto to work. The rat-dog, resplendent in bright orange jacket, was spotted leaving the Department of Energy and Climate Change with his master just days after the minister had unveiled his plans for the Green Deal. This raised a couple of questions.Is Otto in fact a key stakeholder in the policy who was advising the minister? Is he concerned about the availability of solid wall insulation for his doghouse? Does he run a small canine enterprise that he fears will not be able to access cheap finance? Only Otto knows.