Tessa Jowell tells Building that important scheme would not be a design-led project

The media centre for the 2012 Olympics will be procured through the design-and-build route, Olympics minister Tessa Jowell revealed to Building last week

Jowell said the second-most prestigious scheme for the Games would not be a design-led project. This is likely to fan the row over the role of design in the procurement of Olympic schemes.

She said the priority was to stick to the timetable, and to keep risk low. “One of the reasons we’ve done well so far is by not taking risks with the timetable. There’s tension between costs, timescale and quality.”

Lord Rogers personally warned Jowell last month that the design-and-build route would result in lacklustre designs after Team McAlpine won a one-horse race to become preferred bidder for the Olympic stadium.

Others have since then come out in support of Rogers, and Jack Pringle, the RIBA president, wrote to Jowell this week arguing that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) was being too cautious.

Pringle said: “It’s the wrong attitude to be going in with. To put risk factors ahead of design at this stage shows a lack of confidence. The competition for the stadium has become a parody of my worst fears. My letter offers to help with the design competitions.”

Lord Foster, who bid for the stadium without a contractor, also attacked the process. He told Building: “The stadium should be tendered one stage at a time. My bid was a way of suggesting it should be given more time and consideration.”

Jowell suggested that part of the problem was that the construction industry had been half-hearted about bidding for the contract.