Here what was happening in the outside world when Building was doing its stuff (spiced up with our favourite quotes of the decade)


Vladimir Putin is elected president of Russia. The Tate Modern gallery opens in London. The Olympics are held in Sydney. After a recount in Florida and a lot of wrangling about “hanging chads”, George W Bush beats Al Gore to the US presidency.

There have been very, very poor quality developments, which have tawdry little boxes put together with no sense or feel for the area
Construction minister Nick Raynsford on housing estates


Wikipedia is launched. The foot and mouth crisis hits UK farmers. Tony Blair and the Labour party are re-elected. Hijacked aeroplanes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000. George W declares a “war on terror” and invades Afghanistan. The first iPod is launched. The first Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films are released.


The Euro is adopted by 12 of the EU’s 15 member states. Brazil wins the FIFA World Cup. Energy company Enron collapses. The UN Security Council calls on Iraq to disarm and UN arms inspectors led by Hans Blix arrive in Iraq to look for ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

It’s been a bit difficult to shake off this image that the project is out of control
John Gibbons, the Scottish executive’s project manager for the Holyrood parliament


Worldwide demonstrations are held against a war in Iraq. Troops led by US and UK forces enter Iraq. Global alerts are issued about the SARS virus. The mapping of the human genome is completed. The Da Vinci Code is published and becomes a publishing sensation. The Hutton inquiry starts after the body of government adviser David Kelly is found. A last-minute drop goal by Johnny Wilkinson leads England to Rugby World Cup victory.


The social networking site Facebook is founded. Bombs on trains in Madrid kill 190. Ten states join the EU. The Olympic games are held in Athens. Chechen terrorists besiege a school in Beslan, Northern Ossetia.

Pro-foxhunting protesters storm the House of Commons. George W Bush is re-elected, beating Democrat John Kerry. On Boxing Day, a tsunami kills at least 180,000 people in South-east Asia.


YouTube is launched. John Paul II dies and Benedict XVI gets the white smoke. Labour wins a third term, with a reduced majority. On 7 July, four suicide bombers detonate devices on the London Tube and bus system, killing 56. Lance Armstrong wins a record seventh Tour de France. Hurricane Katrina floods New Orleans. Cartoons of the prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper attract controversy.

What the hell is handball? I have to build a stadium for it
David Higgins, chief executive of the Olympic Development Authority


The Cash for Honours investigation in the UK parliament begins. The first case of bird flu appears in the UK. Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth attempts to alert the world to the dangers of climate change. Italy wins the FIFA World Cup in a penalty shootout against France. The Nintendo Wii is released. Saddam Hussein is executed.


Reality television programme Celebrity Big Brother comes under fire over allegations of racial bullying. Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley form a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. Gordon Brown takes over from Tony Blair as prime minister. Fans queue outside bookshops as the final book in the Harry Potter series is released. Banking firm Northern Rock seeks support from the Bank of England, causing a run on the bank and throwing the UK economy into freefall. The phrase “credit crunch” is coined. South Africa wins the Rugby World Cup.


A massive earthquake in Sichuan kills nearly 70,000. Manchester United wins the first ever all-English UEFA Champions League final, against Chelsea. At the Beijing Olympics, China sweeps the board. Recession hits as Lehman Brothers and US mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac go into receivership. Lewis Hamilton becomes the youngest ever Formula One world champion.


Barrack Obama is inaugurated as the president of the United States. Heavy snow causes widespread disruption for transport and schools across the UK. State leaders meet in London for the G20 Summit amid mass protests. UK unemployment rises above two million. The MPs’ expenses scandal unfolds, as reports of second homes, moats and blue movies hit the news. Swine Flu becomes a pandemic. Michael Jackson dies.