Inspired by inaugural events across the pond, we indulge in some gentle globetrotting and encounter a failed QS in China, a cement protest in Greece and a lone Hungarian in the Middle East

Just something I read …

You can’t keep a good man down. Michael Byng, former chair of the QS and Construction Faculty at the RICS, suffered a blow last July when his Birmingham firm, Michael Byng Project Control, went into administration. Now, six months later, it is in liquidation. Hard to know how many tears will be shed for a man once fined several thousand pounds for, among other things, acting “in a manner unbecoming of a chartered surveyor”. But if you thought it was a case of Kiss, Kiss, Byng, Byng, think again. I notice a new firm has cropped up at Companies House – Michael Byng Project Control (China). Perhaps he was inspired by Building’s coverage of the eastern markets.

Ever the optimist

There’s a case for displaying a stiff upper lip when those around you are starting to quiver, but Oakdene took the concept into the realms of farce last week. Shortly after the housebuilder’s banks called in their £85m debt and its shares were suspended, Building asked whether this meant the company was in trouble. “I don’t know why anyone would think that,” replied an indignant spokesperson. Hours later, the company announced the administrators had been called in. Mind you, this is the company that once told me it had sold “about 200” homes in 2007 when it actually meant 140.

Sprechen sie global?

According to the UN, there are 192 countries in the world and consultant Halcrow seems to be doing its best to get, well, a real united nations of employees. The firm employs about 2,000 people in the Middle East and David Yaw, Halcrow’s regional managing director, has proudly told me it has just taken on its 56th nationality out there – a Hungarian. That means the company has staff from about 30% of the world’s countries. It’s a good job English is the universal language, because printing the staff handbook could prove a costly exercise.

It’s all Greek to me

Greek protesters, clearly in the mood for protest after railing against economic hardship and police violence, decided to disrupt the launch of a Renzo Piano scheme in Athens last week. As the architect unveiled designs for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, protesters hiding in the audience unveiled a “No more concrete!” banner and charged through the hall shouting the same slogan. The project team took it on the chin but was a little puzzled by the demonstrators’ wrath – the scheme is intended to be zero-carbon, after all.

Brand new brand

With President Obama newly installed in the White House, it’s good to see the construction industry embracing the spirit of change. Davis Langdon this week unveiled their dramatic “master brand identity”, which involves a new shiny red logo. From this point forward, Davis Langdon is entering a new era, repositioned as a “solutions-driven, global construction consultancy”, which has decided to “rationalise its sub-brands under a single name”. Which is? Er, Davis Langdon …

Smashing work

Which superstar architect would you pick to design a hotel for rock stars Iron Maiden? Norman Foster may be a likely candidate, you might think, having designed a refit of Dublin’s Clarence hotel for Irish

chart-botherers U2. But the band’s former manager Andy Taylor, soon to open the Sanctum Soho Hotel, had other ideas. We can reveal that bespoke London-based architect Smith Caradoc Hodgkins will be designing the £50m scheme. SCH, you may be interested to hear, designed the elegant glass frontage at Tate Modern. A shame that any glass in Sanctum Soho will no doubt be smashed by a thrown television shortly after its first rock star guests stay the night …