Isn’t the pessimistic tone of Building’s review of progress on the Olympic stadium a little premature (27 October, page 26)?
I notice that the rumbles of complaint that the design is “insufficiently iconic” (whatever that means) from the Rogers enclave have started even before anyone has any idea what the stadium will look like. It seems Lord Rogers has based his prejudices on no more than the likelihood that the stadium will be a design-and-build job.
This stadium is a special case and the reasons the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) decided on this method of procurement may be entirely defensible and pragmatic. The UK construction industry is overheated and likely to remain so for the next four years, so the ODA will have to accept what the market can offer. The ODA will be lucky to have a team that can deliver such a large stadium at all, which, sadly, reduces the chances of any competition for the job.
But there are deeper influences. The ODA knows it has to produce a working building in a short time – national prestige depends on it. An added dimension is France, hoping for our failure and the chance to trumpet the success of its grands projets.
To have chosen a more traditional route – where an international architect designs an internationally acclaimed masterpiece without the contractor at his side to confirm buildability – might have resulted in disaster, in terms of quality, cost and time.
By choosing design and build, I think the ODA has sensibly limited its risks. I am sure the chosen team can produce a building that, at least, will be ready on time and function as it should. We should remain optimistic that it won’t look too bad either – does that mean “iconic”?
Malcolm Taylor, Lancaster