Architect leaves £1bn London 2012 project amid mounting unrest over value engineering
One of the architects on the Olympic village for London 2012 has walked off the development amid concerns over the design quality of the £1bn project.
Ian Ritchie Architects, which had been commissioned by Lend Lease in May to design one of the scheme’s blocks, was one of 11 appointed to design the village. It is understood the practice has left because of concerns over the design quality of the proposed 3,000-home scheme.
Now, other architects on the village are privately voicing concerns that their designs may be value engineered or scaled back. One said: “Everyone’s moaning about it. People are worried that their pieces of the village are not going to be as good as they’d like. I think you’d see more people walking off if there was more work about.”
Architects are understood to have been asked to design the exterior of the residential blocks around a standard core, a process one has described as “glorified cladding”.
Nigel Hugill, chairman of Lend Lease, said Ritchie had left the scheme because he was too busy, but that he was still on the 47-strong framework from which the village architects are drawn.
I think you’d see more people walking off if there was more work about olympic village architect
Hugill also denied there were concerns about design quality. He said: “The design review panel couldn’t have been more positive if we had written it ourselves. That is a matter of public record.”
Ritchie’s move is the latest blow to the village, which is facing a funding crisis. Lend Lease this week announced it had reached an interim agreement with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to act as project manager for the construction of the village, leaving the ODA temporarily responsible for funding but enabling work to progress.
The ODA says it is hopeful that Lend Lease will take an equity stake in the project by the end of the year, but Greg Clarke, the Lend Lease chief executive, said this was dependent on the state of the credit markets. It is believed there is currently a £400m shortfall in funding.
The village has already been scaled back owing to concern that the credit crunch will affect the eventual sale of the houses. Its floor area has been reduced from 4 to 3 million ft².
Ian Ritchie declined to comment on his departure.