Architect Foster and Partners' design for a city academy has been revamped by a team of designers because the client said it was "boring".

A team of interior designers, including Urban Salon and Shift Design Studio, has been parachuted in at the last minute to work on the £37m West London Academy.

A source close to the project said that the school's sponsor, Alec Reed, the founder of the Reed recruitment agency, had objected to Foster's design. He commented that the plans for the interior of the school made it look like an office.

The source said: "It was quite astounding to see what they'd planned. It was really boring: just tables and chairs. It looked like they hadn't given it any thought at all."

The classrooms are arranged around atriums, which are supposed to provide a creative space for the pupils, although detailed designs had not been done on any of these.

The source said: "Ideally, you need to start work on the interior of a school at least two years before. The academy was due to open in September last year and the creative consultants were called in January. It was quite worrying, really."

The source said: "The Foster team's initial reaction was quite frosty and they told us we'd have to present all the new designs to them but once we showed them the plans, they got quite excited about it."

A spokesperson for Foster and Partners said the redesign was the result of a "considered, integrated decision made jointly by Foster and Partners, the sponsor Alec Reed and the school to bring in young designers to work on break-out areas or ‘enterprise zones'".

Hard lessons: Two of Foster’s academies have been criticised

Hard lessons: Two of Foster’s academies have been criticised

"These spaces were conceived from the outset, as focal points of the teaching. This is part of a tradition of Fosters' bringing in outside designers and artists. In the past we have worked with Sophie Smallhorn at the Djanogly Academy Nottingham, Kate Maestri at The Sage Gateshead and Per Arnoldi on the Reichstag."

The news comes as the government's chief adviser on city academies this week attacked Foster's Bexley Academy, saying he would never have let it be built, and calling the three-walled classroom design "crazy".

Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said the first city academies were grandiose palaces made out of inefficient, high-tech materials.

He said: "Glass is a terrible material to use in schools. It is very high maintenance, too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Some academies have classrooms without walls so you can never have silence."

The reception area at Foster's Capital City Academy in Brent, northwest London, is being rebuilt to make more space for the library.

It looked like they hadn’t given it any thought at all

Source close to the project