Has Egan changed nothing? Our investigation on pages 38-40 reveals how chaos still reigns on site; and architects, it seems, are living up to their reputations for arrogance. One was presenting his designs for a children's theatre. "Do you believe in consultation?" asked a judge. "No," the architect replied. "And if I have to talk to any children, I'm not interested in the job."
Another A-list designer was shortlisted for the extension to a prominent London institution. Although his design was deemed to be the most beautiful, the judges were unimpressed by the star's insistence that, after building the extension, they demolish their main building and replace it with a new one – designed, of course, by said architect.
Elementary, my dear reader
Amec may not be able to announce it – for good financial and legal reasons – but, like all my City brethren, I strongly suspect that it is about to gobble up the 58% in French M&E firm Spie that it doesn't own.
The official line from Amec is that it is "expecting" to complete the takeover but can't commit until the shares become available early next year – in case there's a war or something like that. But my eye has alighted on some suggestive clues. First, there's a management restructuring that will make Spie easier to digest, and second … Amec's staff have been busily taking French lessons.
Could it be that the government has written off London's chances of hosting the 2012 Olympics? In June, the International Olympic Committee and the International Union of Architects are holding a conference for potential bidders in Lausanne in Switzerland. But, a reliable government source informs me, sports minister Richard Caborn will not attend. Instead, he will be in Japan and South Korea cheering on Beckham's bombers at the World Cup finals. Oh, the sacrifices a patriotic minister must make …
Afghanistan, here we come
And talking of bombers, even as B52s continue their high-explosive export drive to Afghanistan, it's good to hear that our government is turning its thoughts to ploughshares. Not only has it pledged £200m in aid, I am told that the army has been trying to recruit construction firms for the job of rebuilding the benighted country.
I also understand that Cyril Sweett, which is interested in grabbing a piece of the peace, as this esteemed organ reported, may have the field to itself, as far as domestic competition is concerned. At least one senior civil engineer has made it plain to me that he had no intention of sending anyone or anything anywhere near the place. "We won't get paid – and I don't want any staff getting killed," was his retort.
The mark of Zara
QSs will be relieved to learn that Zara Lamont has turned her attention to other disciplines.
A member of the Construction Products Association slipped from the shadows and approached a colleague of mine outside a meeting where Ms Lamont had been speaking. "Surveyors can relax," he hissed.
"It's architects she's gunning for now." You've been warned …
Same planet, different worlds
If anyone needed a reminder that bankers and builders inhabit different worlds, I pass on a tale from a conference organised by Schroder Salomon Smith Barney. The aim was to tell the suits what big European companies were up to, and several heads of companies were flown in for the occasion. When it was the turn of Dr Hans-Peter Keitel, chairman and chief executive of Hochtief – Europe's third largest contractor – to speak, a colleague turned to a banker and asked if it was a company he followed. "Bit small," was the clipped reply.
Come to MOMA
I hear that the Museum of Modern Art in New York is about to embark on a pair of ambitious developments. The first is the refurbishment of its gallery in Manhattan; the second is the conversion into gallery space of a redundant industrial building in Queens on the other side of the river. This sounds like an attempt to copy the refurb of the Tate Britain and the inauguration of the Tate Modern. Where the double development projects part company, however, is in their budgets. The two Tates were converted for £167m, whereas MOMA's projects will come with a combined price tag of a cool £375m.
Lucky escape of the week goes to David Coats, the TUC's head of economic and social affairs. Coats, long a critic of the government's attempts to flood the public services with private finance, was to put the unions' views on the PFI at a conference. Sadly, those gathered to hear what was no doubt going to be a suitably stirring hymn to the sanctity of the public realm were disappointed. He failed to show, leaving some red-faced organisers to make his excuses for him. Sounds like construction minister material …
… and finally
While we are in the giving vein, might I recommend a bravery award for the announcer on the 7.26am train from Tulse Hill to London Bridge last Thursday? "This train is running four minutes late due to passengers not shutting the doors. So please don't blame the train companies or Railtrack for once – it's all your fault."