As the recession drags on, we hear the sound of lamentation from losing Crossrail bidders, wailing from architects’ competition lists and saucy ad libs from property professionals

It can’t be that simple

Resentment is still simmering over the number of Crossrail contracts being awarded to US firms. How could British bidders have been passed over for London’s £17bn rail project? Various conspiracy theories have emerged. According to one, it was a political decision to curry favour (or should that be “favor”?) with president Obama. Another theory is that it is in order to avoid the embarrassment of UK firms losing work when Crossrail is cancelled. One explanation notably absent is that the American teams may have tabled better bids. Perhaps sour grapes are covering up the bitter taste of reality.

Every little delusion helps

The furore over Tesco’s swingeing fee cuts seems to have died down in recent weeks. Indeed, more than one consultant has been in touch to tell me how positive their talks with the firm have been. My spies on the ground tell me this sudden enthusiasm may be a bid to secure more work from the supermarket giant in return for compliance with the new regime. I know optimism is crucial to economic recovery, but with plummeting fees and a reduced Tesco development pipeline, perhaps this is the triumph of hope over experience?

Talent pool Paucity of work for architects appears to have caused an explosion in the number of entries for design competitions, which are now more jammed full of stars than an after-party at the Oscars. Take a recent RIBA competition to design a £1.5m swimming pool in Worthing. Not exactly a prospect to set artistic pulses racing. Yet on the shortlist we see none other than last year’s Stirling prize winner Feilden Clegg Bradley, fellow nominee Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, and former bright young thing Thomas Heatherwick. While the idea of water slides by Heatherwick appeals, surely there is better work out there for these talented practices?

Lapping it up

It was all a bit musical chairs at the last Movers & Shakers breakfast. This jostling is commonplace among the guests, as more than 100 property professionals try to nab a spot on a good table. But this time, the seating issues extended to the panel. After British Property Federation chair Liz Peace had finished speaking, she was asked to stay on the stage in order to answer questions, leaving five people with only four seats. “Have mine,” said fellow panelist, Deloitte’s Nick Ritblat, with great chivalry. Or so we thought. Perhaps forgetting he was speaking straight into his mic, he added: “Or sit on my lap if you’d prefer.” Cheeky!

The eagle has branded

As you can read in this week’s analysis section (page 28), Aecom, the US engineering giant, is rebranding its divisions under one name. UK consultant Faber Maunsell has already taken the plunge, meaning it now sounds less like a publisher and more like a software firm, and Olympic park architect EDAW is set to follow suit in the autumn. We hear, though, that the architects are dead set against the convergence, arguing that the EDAW badge is too strong to discard. Could we yet see them bow to their bosses? Or does EDAW feel so strongly that it would consider leaving the Aecom fold for good?

That design really speaks to me

Building has, along with every other media outlet on earth, gone Twitter mad. Even our esteemed editor is now posting on the trendy microblogging site (see the back page for a sample). Along with industry figures, a couple more robust twitterers have joined the fray. Actual buildings, that is. The Get Carter car park designed by Owen Luder twitters poetic updates at @trinitycarpark, and The Museum of Liverpool now tweets at @The_new_museum (Recent post: “This scaffolding is really spoiling my view of the Three Graces – hope it gets moved soon!”). What next? A complaint from Nelson’s Column about pigeons?