Industry watchers must be scratching their heads at the latest goings-on at former superconsultant Atkins. After months of speculation about the firm being stalked by mystery bidders, a private equity group called CVC put money on the table. But there was a twist: Mike Jeffries, the chairman and chief executive of Atkins, was reported to be involved in the offer. In any case, it was immediately rebuffed by non-executive directors at Atkins. What's more, I hear that such boardroom shenanigans have led to Faithful & Gould, Atkins' QS arm, distancing itself somewhat from its parent. The firm, which rebranded as Atkins Faithful & Gould last year, has quietly dropped the "Atkins". A sign of things to come?
Cheek by Jowell
Will we shortly be suffering from a surfeit of Bilbaos? We will if Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, has anything to do with it. On a tour of the country last week she hailed not one but four cities and regions as being the "new Bilbao" – the Spanish city transformed by Frank Gehry's ohmygodwhat'sthat Guggenheim Museum. Now, Birmingham, Manchester, Gateshead and Cornwall can all "justly" claim to be repeating the success of said city, according to Tess. A cynic would think she's gone on tour with just the one speech.
Shake it up, baby
Is architect Piers Gough taking his love of kitsch too far? Adorning a filing cabinet in CZWG's Clerkenwell office is a snow globe containing a vista of Canary Wharf. Piers has a soft spot for the cheerful knick-knacks; every time he gives it a shake, he engulfs three of his own creations in a blizzard. His Docklands residential apartment blocks China Wharf, Dundee Wharf and Cascades have been frozen for posterity in an eternal winter in every tacky tourist shop in London.
I hear the latest brochures for the Greenwich Millennium Village have been sent out sealed in plastics bag. These containers are made by a food packaging company that works for the Ministry of Defence. One of their selling points, so I am told, is that their contents will remain in pristine condition at temperatures as low as -20°C – which could come in handy as the capital's property market enters the freezer.
Bullivant on the box
Next week's edition of Channel 4's Grand Designs might be worth a watch. The show charts the trials endured by new housing builds, and introduces budding homebuilders to the fact that projects often – gasps of horror – go over time and budget. The upcoming episode will feature some work by foundation specialist Roger Bullivant on a trendy house, known as Cloud 8, in the Chilterns. The firm was only there for three days, but it was worth it in publicity terms: the building has created such a buzz that Grand Designs intends to revisit it next year. "We did a super job and the client was ecstatic," puffed the firm's operations manager John Sterland.