What are the connections: Mace and an East End hard nut; Richard Rogers and the Windsors; Boris Johnson and Jaws; Renzo Piano and the X Factor? Read on …
Piano on vocals
Following the news that Lord Foster will celebrate this summer's London Architecture Biennale by driving a flock of sheep across the Millennium Bridge, Italian architect Renzo Piano is clearly anxious not to be outdone. Asked if he could give a sermon - a pompous name for a lecture, we suspect - in Southwark cathedral on the night before the biennale, he quickly accepted - on the condition that he could sing. Architects' ambitions really have no limit.
Don't mention the Dome!
It seems that Wembley contractor Multiplex is rapidly losing touch with the Football Association's thinking on the troubled project. After the FA announced last week that it was switching the cup final, the following statement appeared on Multiplex's website: "Multiplex understands that the English Football Association is to transfer the 2006 FA Cup Final to its reserve venue, the Millennium Dome in Cardiff." Is it unfair to suggest that the accidental mention of the UK's most disastrous white elephant might qualify as a Freudian slip?
Gandy's goose chase
Still on the subject of Wembley, I hear times are a little uncertain for Paul Gandy, the project's former director. Gandy eventually left Multiplex - after a brief sojourn at the Aussie contractor's development division in Gibraltar - to join Mowlem as managing director of construction and projects. However, now that Carillion has formally taken over that contractor I hear that Gandy is trying to work out whom he will be directly reporting to and where exactly he will fit into construction's new superpower.
Rogers and the royals
Having been sacked and then subsequently reinstated on the Welsh National Assembly project, it appears that Lord Rogers will be having the last laugh. As well as the mandatory presence of fellow dissident the Prince of Wales, a veritable herd of royals - the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Duchess of Cornwall - has agreed to turn up for this week's formal opening. One can only hope that the supportive presence of his wife and parents will prevent Prince Charles becoming too distressed by the design of the modernist glass box.
106 - 20 = £400m
Speaking of Rogers, I hear his Bowater House job got planning permission last week. This, in case you didn't know, is a plan to turn a drab 1950s office block overlooking Hyde Park into luxurious apartments. But the design did not make it through unscathed: Westminster council ordered him to remove one storey from each of the four linked blocks, reducing the number of units from 106 to 86. Not the end of the world, you may think, but when each apartment is going for up to £20m, that's up to £400m less for the consortium that owns the site. Ouch.
Nobody messes with a Mitchell
I hear that the Lighthouse construction charity has received some welcome funding from an unlikely source - Ross Kemp's ITV serial Ultimate Force. Apparently a £2000 donation to the cause was extracted by Mace as the price for allowing filming to take place on its London redevelopment project at 51 Lime Street.
Quite what the SAS are required to do in an upmarket City office development will, I am sure, be fully revealed when the show next hits our screens.
Boris the Bad
The Chartered Institute of Building may be questioning the wisdom of inviting shadow higher education minister Boris Johnson to its annual Guildhall dinner last week. Five minutes into his speech, Boris informed guests that he had "zero tolerance for health and safety regulations", and bemoaned the lack of risk-taking in the construction industry. The fact that he then went on to reveal that his political hero is the mayor in the Jaws films did little to assuage the growing anxiety of the gathered guests. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Conservatives …
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