Frank Gehry marches on Edinburgh, Cecil Parkinson lives it up in Harpenden and Dominic Helps settles down for some much needed sleep

Walking with dinosaurs

It’s not much fun being called Jarvis these days, so it’s good to see one firm of that name still ready to party. While Jarvis the plc continues to struggle with massive debts and departing bosses, I am glad to report the fortunes of its namesake, the Harpenden-based contractor Jarvis Group, are much healthier. This contractor, developer and housebuilder celebrated its centenary last week with a splendid bash at Brocket Hall near Welwyn Garden City. The presence of ex-Tory minister and firm chairman Cecil Parkinson at the event meant it was swamped with what’s left of the Tory party, including local MP and former minister Peter Lilley and former-minister-cum-media-darling Michael Portillo. I didn’t catch sight of Jeffrey Archer, but you can’t have everything I suppose …

Gehry shacks up with Geldof

Frank Gehry has always moved in illustrious circles - remember, his sometime office teaboy is Hollywood heartbreaker Brad Pitt. Now it seems he has been busy catching up with his old mucker Sir Bob Geldof whom, attentive readers of Building might remember, he met at a charity motorcycle event in the 1980s. Frank has apparently been crashing at Bob’s on his UK jaunts, where presumably they have been chewing the fat about Geldof’s Live 8 endeavour. Don’t be surprised to see Gehry (and, indeed, young Brad) marching on Edinburgh …

Sleeping beauty

Being a construction lawyer must be a tiring business – at least it is if you’re Dominic Helps. It seems the Shadbolt man’s snooze at the recent Building Health and Safety awards wasn’t such a one-off: news has reached me that he also snatched a quick 40 winks on a lawyers’ outing to watch rugby sevens. However, Dominic needn’t worry about his lethargy causing offence. “Dominic is so lovely to watch when he’s asleep,” gushed one legal eagle. “He’s such a gentle giant.”

Inaction in action

Good to see Lewisham councillors putting the redevelopment of the sprawling Kidbrooke Estate at the top of their to do list. Shortlisted bidders for the south-east London scheme have been told they have to delay the final presentation of their designs, which has now been shunted back to July. “We’re just asking ourselves how bothered they are,” says one disgruntled bidder.

That’ll fool them

Delegates at Building’s procurement conference last week were given a fascinating insight into the heightened security required for our buildings post-9/11. Arup Security Consulting’s John Haddon ran through all the ways to defend against deadly attacks from bombs and chemical and biological agents, including sophisticated glass and ventilation systems. One approach, however, seemed more obvious. “We’re advising the big commercial firms not to put their names on their buildings,” we were told.

Prison irks
Prison irks
Kevin Murray, who heads up the government’s programme to refurbish the nation’s prisons, has been left somewhat underwhelmed by some of the bidders in the selection process. The Prison Service man has been growing weary of know-all consultants swaggering in claiming to be experts on prisons only to be exposed under light questioning, and enlisted the help of a Blackadder allusion to make his feelings clear at a recent Building conference. “Some of their ‘cunning plans’ are more befitting of Baldrick than a professor of cunning at Oxford University.”