Architect plans alliance with Balfour Beatty as it prepares to go down design-and-build route
The team behind Foster and Partners’ unsuccessful bid for the Olympic stadium is preparing to challenge for the silver medal of Olympic contracts – the media centre.
The original consortium, which included Foster, Gleeds and URS Corporation, will be joined by a contractor, understood to be Balfour Beatty. The consortium is also understood to include: sports architect AFL, steel producer Corus, technology and services company General Electric and financial services company Citigroup.
A source at the consortium confirmed it would bid again but was waiting to assess the details of the contract. The source said: “We are keen to bid in a consortium, which is yet to be defined in its totality, but we will reserve judgment until we see the documents from the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).”
The Foster consortium hit the headlines last year when it entered the design-and-build competition for the 80,000-seat Olympic stadium without a contractor. The team was disqualified by the ODA because it broke bidding rules and Team McAlpine, lead by contractor Sir Robert McAlpine, was appointed preferred bidder.
However, Building has learned that the group did have a contractor lined up – Balfour Beatty – but did not list it in the project team because it had not been debriefed in the wake of its unsuccessful delivery partner bid.
The consortium’s move is controversial, as the media centre will also be a design-and-build contract. Many architects, including Richard Rogers Partnerships, have said they will boycott competitions for venues procured through this route. Rogers last year warned Tessa Jowell, the Olympics minister, that the design-and-build route would result in designs that would not produce Olympic-class venues.
Foster and his team are also expected to bid for the velopark – the only major venue besides the aquatics centre to be procured through a design-led route – when the contract is advertised later this month.
Other architects expected to bid for this are: Make, David Morley, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and FaulknerBrowns.
The BBC is in talks to move into the Olympic media centre after the Games are over, which could put an end to its plans to set up a northern headquarters in Salford, Greater Manchester. It had planned to relocate there in 2010.