The contractor, whose appointment was due to be confirmed by Scottish secretary Donald Dewar late this week, beat off rival bids from HBG and Sir Robert McAlpine. Laing had also been on the shortlist of four for the project but was discarded at a late stage after the value-for-money of its bid was judged to be less competitive than the other three.
Ian McAndie, the Davis Langdon & Everest Edinburgh partner working on the project, said Bovis will be transferring the team that worked on the Museum of Scotland to the scheme. Bovis project executive Alan Mack, who worked on the last 15 months of the museum project, will be project director for the parliament building.
The assignment is expected to be tough, with Catalan architect Enric Miralles and multidisciplinary group RMJM's Edinburgh office now developing challenging designs. McAndie said the client team is moving towards a "design tidy-up" after which a cost estimate will be made.
The budget is £50m, but local industry sources are sceptical that the "upturned boat" proposed by Miralles can be delivered within this figure.
McAndie said the Bovis team offered the best "all-round quality" of the shortlisted bidders and that a decision was taken after final presentations last week.
The Scottish Office wants to make a start on the 21 000 m² building by mid-May, soon after the Scottish parliamentary elections on 6 May. The building will be completed in June 2001, in time for the first parliamentary meetings that autumn.
Demolition has already started on the site, which is at Holyrood and enclosed by Canongate, Horse Wynd, Holyrood Road and Reid's Close.
Miralles' design has caused some controversy locally but is exempt from the planning process because the parliament will be a crown building. However, the project team intends to go through the planning process and will refer the project to Historic Scotland and ancient monument experts.
Schal, Heery, Amec and Kvaerner were among the firms that failed to make the final shortlist from an original list of 15 expressions of interest.
RMJM is also the project's services engineer, and Ove Arup & Partners is structural engineer.
Bovis was unavailable for comment but is understood to see the commission as a good start to the year after its merger talks with WS Atkins broke down in December.