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Foster escapes repair bill at Bexley Academy

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Foster + Partners has been told it does not have to foot the bill for failing paintwork at its troubled Stirling Prize-shortlisted Bexley Business Academy in London

The decision was made by an external adjudicator, who told building contractor Exterior International (now known as ISG InteriorExterior) that it would have to replace fire-retardant paintwork on the building’s steel frame at its own expense.

The contractor originally claimed the faults were a design issue attributable to Foster + Partners’ choice of coating, exacerbated by poor maintenance, and wanted to split the costs between itself, the school and the practice. However, studies commissioned by the academy revealed the paint may have been applied in the wrong weather.

It is understood that the problem appeared soon after the academy’s completion in 2002, and affects virtually every column in the structure. Academy chief executive Sam Price said: ‘It’s widespread and is going to mean taking all the paint off, right down to the steelwork, and re-doing it.’

‘I expect in the end it’ll cost in the order of £300,000,’ she added.

This legal wrangle follows a raft of issues at the £31 million flagship school, understood to have cost the school and the government more than £1 million.

Acoustic problems caused by Foster’s famed open-plan classrooms were solved in 2007 with the addition of glass partitions at a cost of £600,000.

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