Foreign Office Architects and Network Rail hold emergency talks after row threatens scheme
Foreign Office Architects and Network Rail have been holding emergency talks this week after a row threatened to throw the £550m Birmingham New Street project into disarray.
FOA, understood to be the preferred concept architect on the scheme, has been at loggerheads with Network Rail over the role lead consultant Atkins will have.
FOA was supposed to have worked with Atkins and project architect Building Design Partnership (BDP) during the construction of the station’s exterior and atrium, but it is understood that Network Rail made moves to buy the copyright for its designs and hand them straight to Atkins, effectively cutting FOA out of the contract.
Sources said FOA was concerned that the lack of a design overseer may have affected the quality of the finished building, and was reconsidering its role as a result.
One said: “Network Rail was looking to give Atkins the whole job. FOA had serious concerns about it. If it was put on the spot, I think it would have walked away.”
The architect and Network Rail have held a series of crunch meetings to resolve the issue, and are understood to be close to agreement.
Sources close to the talks played down the significance of the falling out. One said: “It’s not a big problem. It was a discussion about Atkins’ role. It’s not true FOA would be cut out.”
If FOA had pulled out, Atkins and BDP would have been likely to have designed the station’s exterior alone.
A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “We want our concept designer to be part of the integrated team. From our perspective, there is no question of that not happening.”
FOA refused to comment on the scheme.
Birmingham council is due to reveal the architect for its new £193m Central Library this week.