BAA appoints practice to carry out feasibility study and concept designs for £1.5bn airport scheme

Terminal 2 will be demolished to make way for the new Heathrow East

Terminal 2 will be demolished to make way for the new Heathrow East

Architect Foster and Partners has emerged as the frontrunner to design the £1.5bn Heathrow East Terminal, planned as a replacement for the ageing Terminal 2.

Airports operator BAA has already asked the architect to prepare a feasibility study for the proposal, including initial conceptual sketches.

Mark Shirburne-Davies, BAA’s design director, said this week that the client would select a design team in “the early part of 2006”. It plans to open the terminal in time for the 2012 Olympics.

Mike Forster, business strategy director of Heathrow, said BAA aimed to submit a planning application by 2007, receive approval by 2008 and start on site by 2009.

This timetable gives BAA only a few months to either run a design competition or invite architects to submit detailed designs, and implies that Foster’s work on the project is already quite detailed.

BAA has already said it was looking to commission an architect with a strong track records of running international airports to make sure the project was completed on time and to budget.

A spokesperson for BAA said: “We don’t feel obliged to work with big names but they are famous for a reason – they get big projects finished. We place a lot of emphasis on being on time, on budget and managing our risk. If the terminal is even a day late, it’s bad news.”

Foster has a good track record of airports, including Stansted and Chek Lap Kok in Hong Kong, and is currently on site in Beijing.

The spokesperson said Terminal 5, designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, would be used as a blueprint for Heathrow East. “A good blueprint for what we want is T5. This scheme shows what we can do.”

BAA has said it is too soon to talk about tendering but Tony Douglas, BAA’s managing director of T5, said this week he was “very keen” to use the same contracting team that was currently building T5.