Lack of firms willing to take on scheme forces architect to put together a consultants-only team
Lord Foster has made the unusual move of bidding for the design-and-build London Olympic stadium contract without a contractor.
It is understood that Foster and Partners was unable to find a contractor to team up with, so put together a bid as part of a design-led consortium.
The firm had been in talks with Skanska, but the contractor ruled itself out of the competition last month.
Many other well known architects, such as Richard Rogers Partnership, Make and Herzog & de Meuron, the designer of Beijing Olympic stadium, were expected to bid but have decided not to. This is thought to be because they were also unable to find contractors to team up with.
Two contractors with the experience and capacity to build the 80,000-seat stadium were ruled out last month. Taylor Woodrow declined to bid and Laing O’Rourke is unable to because of its role as Olympic delivery partner role.
This leaves architects with the decision to go it alone, or not enter. Foreign Office Architects, which helped draw up designs for the stadium for the Olympic bid team, is understood to have considered a design-led bid, but has now ruled itself out.
Observers say the UK industry’s reluctance to bid for the stadium is partly the result of a strong bid from the team behind Arsenal’s Emirates stadium: contractor Sir Robert McAlpine, architect HOK Sport and engineer Buro Happold.
It is thought that contractors’ unwillingness to bid is also associated with Multiplex’s problems at the Wembley National Stadium, which have cost it almost £150m to date.
The ODA has been quick to dismiss any association with the ill-fated national stadium, with chairman Jack Lemley insisting that “this will not be another Wembley”.
A source at the Olympic Delivery Authority confirmed that in the early stages of the project, architects could enter the competition alone: “The eventual application will require all competencies, but the ODA can put people together to speak to each other.”
The ODA has said a shortlist of bidders will be released by the end of this month.