Christmas turkeys: From walkie scorchie to the Green Deal, we take a look at some of 2013’s biggest blunders
In September the Walkie Talkie tower in the City became the centre of an international media frenzy when it transpired that sunlight reflected from the building was melting objects on the street below, including parts of cars. One reporter even managed to fry an egg in the heat spot. Remedial measurements to solve the problem will cost “low single digit millions”, according to developer Canary Wharf Group.
UKCG chief’s mauling by MPs
When UK Contractors Group chief executive Stephen Ratcliffe was called to appear before the committee of MPs investigating blacklisting in July, he would have been hoping to help improve the sector’s reputation. Instead, in a painful hour-and-a-half encounter, Ratcliffe was accused of being “evasive” by two MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee, and was asked to justify his £120,000 salary.
The government’s major consultants’ framework - the £750m Project Management and Full Design Team Services framework - was scheduled to go live in June this year, but the deal has been plagued by delays, with a tender only being issued in October. In August, the government brought in UK SBS to take over management of the framework, in a move that many hoped would get the tender back on track. However, the deadline for submitting bids has now been pushed back from November to 16 December, and it is understood that more than 300 tender clarifications have been issued in the weeks leading up to the deadline.
The Green Deal
By the end of October just 219 Green Deals had been completed, against a target to upgrade 10,000 homes by next year and 14 million by 2020. For construction, the low take-up has led to thousands of job cuts.
Costain’s aborted bid for May Gurney
Having failed (four times) in a bid for support services specialist Mouchel back in 2011, Costain chief executive Andrew Wyllie looked to have finally realised his ambitions to expand into the sector in March, when his firm announced an agreed £178m all-share merger with May Gurney. A month later, however, Wyllie was left beaten again, as May Gurney opted instead to join with Kier in a £221m deal.
The Shard’s Shangri-La hotel
Delays to the £40m fit-out of the Shard’s Shangri-La hotel led to the client replacing the scheme’s contractor, Sisk, with Chorus Group in September (Sisk said the scheme was “delayed for reasons out of our control”). The hotel, which was supposed to open its doors in Q2 2013, will now not open until 2014.
The Al-Wakrah stadium design
The first of the stadiums to be unveiled for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Zaha Hadid Architects’ Al-Wakrah stadium, was described by project architect Jim Heverin as being inspired by “the sails of the Arabian pearl fishing boat, the dhow”. The allusion to the town’s fishing heritage was clearly lost on several commentators, however, who chose to highlight the venue’s resemblance to a particular part of the female anatomy.
It was a dramatic year for others. It wouldn’t be Christmas without some family feuds in the industry. We said hello to some new people, and goodbye to others. There were some high-profile step-downs; we round up the highlights with our Christmas Jumpers feature.