Client and contractor on Colchester arts centre fail to agree price for completing building exterior

The future of Rafael Viñoly’s Colchester Arts Centre has been plunged into further doubt after a crunch meeting between the project’s client and its main contractor failed to produce a rescue package.

In a meeting last week, Martin Hunt, deputy leader of Colchester council, offered Banner Holdings an undisclosed sum “to deliver an externally complete building before April next year”. Work on the scheme, originally due for completion this spring, stalled after it went £3m over its £16.5m budget.

However, Banner has refused the deal, although Hunt said the difference between the offer and the sum demanded by Banner was “under a million pounds”.

Hunt said: “We are now taking a fortnight for all parties to reflect. The funders are meeting on 13 August. I hope we can have a meeting with Banner after that.”

We are taking a fortnight for all parties to reflect on their positions

Councillor Martin Hunt

According to John Drew, UK principal of Rafael Viñoly Architects, completing the exterior would entail finishing the double-curved roof and installing large double-glazed panels.

But specialist contractors Richardson Roofing and Eiffel Glazing left the site last year before completing their work. Both said the geometric complexities and distortion in the roof caused installation problems.

Hunt said: “Once the exterior is completed we’d start negotiations on the interior. It’s frightening how far the cost has escalated.”

Turner & Townsend is the council’s project manager, cost consultant and contract administrator. Neither T&T nor Banner was available for comment.