I take a dim view of 5000-year-old project management, but look kindly on a 21st-century model of good practice
My blunder is Stonehenge. This project reinforces the public's negative perception of construction. For a start, taking 1500 years it must have overrun the original programme – which is no surprise because the design was constantly changing. The client's brief must have been vague since nobody knows what the building's function is. Although the design is well expressed in the aesthetic form, those sarsens and trilithons are grossly overdesigned; did the engineer have shares in the quarry? And the budget obviously didn't allow for the massive infrastructure charges. The whole project relies on hocus-pocus marketing and is a triumph of hype over good construction practice.
The Swiss Re building, on the other hand, demonstrates how far construction has come in only 5000 years. Quite apart from its aesthetic appeal it is functionally designed to suit the site. The structure and appearance complement each other and its "joined-up" design makes use of modern technology to create the building's unique shape. Its environmental credentials appear excellent. The construction procedures, timing and quality of build are a testament to what can be achieved by a team who are enthused. What really attracts me to this building is the diamond cut effect of the glazed facets and the way that light plays on them.
Malcolm Nelson is project director at Laing O'Rourke and this year's CIOB Construction Manager of the Year.