This week, Zaha Hadid launches a scathing attack on England, John Armitt’s BlackBerry almost falls into the wrong hands and Balfour Beatty and Carillion ramp up their rivalry
Lost and found
Last week The Times asked John Armitt, the Olympic Delivery Authority chairman, what his must-have gadget was. The former boss of Network Rail, we learn, can’t go anywhere without his BlackBerry. “It enables me to recover things I have forgotten,” he said. Except, of course, if what you’ve forgotten is your BlackBerry. At the Chartered Institute of Building dinner last Wednesday, Armitt left the device in the cloakroom. Given that it contained all his emails, I bet a few contractors wished they’d stumbled upon it.
At the same event I noted that, almost 10 years on from its publication, Sir John Egan’s Rethinking Construction report is still relevant. Referring to the impending anniversary in his speech, Bob White, Mace’s non-executive chairman, told of a “well known and respected architect – if there can be such a thing – who recently said things were more adversarial with main contractors now than they have ever been”. I can’t imagine where your architect got that impression from, Bob.
Passing the baton
Speaking of Sir John, one can’t help wondering what advice he has given to Colin Matthews, the newly appointed chief executive of BAA. Egan held the hot seat at the airports operator for nine years until 1999 and was widely credited with transforming it into one of the industry’s favourite clients. Matthews takes over on 1 April at a time when BAA’s parent Ferrovial is weighed down by a £22.6bn debt. He won’t even be able to bask in the reflected glory of T5, as that opens on 27 March. No pressure there, then.
Clash of the titans
I sense there may be more rivalry between Balfour Beatty and Carillion, our two super contractors, than they let on. Why else hold your results presentations on the same day? “Neither wants to be the first to blink and change the date,” one analyst said. “At least they stage it so we’ve got 15 minutes to leg it across town from one to the other,” he added.
Better than Baghdad, though
In the latest move to alienate her fellow architects and the nation in general, Zaha Hadid has proclaimed her dislike of England. The Iraqi-born architect revealed that she only stays here “because of the language, my friends and inertia”. She continued: “Other cultures take their public projects seriously.” Well, the knives may be out, but the tools for her projects are still in their box.
Stef the kingmaker
Imagine my surprise on Monday this week when, perusing my morning’s edition of The Times, I stumbled across “ebullient Greek Cypriot-born businessman” Stef Stefanou on the . The John Doyle boss made the news owing to his invitation to a “secret courtship of influential Labour donors” at a London hotel last week. I may have been taken aback, but it was not so much because Stef has donated £40,000 to Labour over the years, but because it was the first time he had been ambushed by paparazzi. Can’t wait to read all about his reunion drink at Boujis with Prince Harry in next week’s Hello!
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