ODA faces first serious setbacks as Lord Rogers queries designs and Jack Lemley quits

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) was hit by its first serious setbacks this week as a row broke out over the designs for the Olympic stadium and Jack Lemley, the ODA chairman, announced his shock departure.

Lord Rogers, who sits on the Olympic design review panel, has warned the ODA that the stadium design needs to be more iconic.

The discussions are taking place in private at Olympic design review meetings, but Rogers – who this week won the Stirling prize for architecture – and other members of the design review team are warning that it could spill over into a public confrontation with the ODA.

One source close to the process said: “Rogers is not impressed. This is the beginning of a growing frustration with the client. If it doesn’t settle down in the next few weeks there could be a confrontation.”

Meanwhile, Jack Lemley, who is 71, stepped down on Wednesday after less than a year as ODA chairman, claiming that he wanted to return to the US to oversee his consultancy business.

However, a source close to the ODA said the decision had only been on the cards in the past two weeks. The source said: “Jack has suffered ill health recently and one view is that he’s been getting very frail. But the other more likely one is that he has been on the opposing side of the table to [ODA chief executive] David Higgins on issues such as budgets and the progress of the programme, so it could be that some friction has boiled over.”

Questions have also been raised over the procurement process for the stadium. Last week, the ODA announced that it had appointed Team McAlpine as preferred bidder for the stadium because its submission was “the only one that met all the ODA’s prequalification criteria”.

The team members are Sir Robert McAlpine, and consultants HOK Sport, Buro Happold and M-E Engineering. They will decide by Christmas whether to build the stadium. However, a source close to the consortium said it was still waiting to see a final design brief.

The source said: “It is still very difficult to put a price on the stadium because negotiations about the designs and whether they are buildable to the required deadlines are still a way off.”