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AHMM hits out over Monsoon

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris has made an official complaint to the RIBA over what the practice partners feel is an attempt by an institute awards judge to jeopardise the practice's relationship with its client.

The practice, which was snubbed in the RIBA awards last week over its Monsoon building in Paddington, west London (pictured), has written to the institute's awards judge head Ian Davidson to complain about the chair of one of the London judges' panels, John McAslan.

McAslan, judging the building with Guy Battle and Walter Menteth, wrote to Monsoon chairman Peter Simon after visiting the site to assess it. The AJ understands that in the letter McAslan advised that AHMM needed to provide better access to the building via a new pedestrian crossing at grade, and that the scheme, a listed building of the sort McAslan's practice often works with, needed a better entrance. McAslan invited Peter Simon to contact John McAslan and Partners if he needed any help in the future.

AHMM is understood to be furious at McAslan's words, which it feels are tantamount to bidding for work from Monsoon boss Simon, who also owns the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill.

Ironically this week the Monsoon scheme did notch up an award from the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust and BSkyB's Building of the Year scheme, presented by culture secretary Tessa Jowell.

The building, designed originally by Paul Hamilton for British Rail in 1969, clinched the conversion prize in one of four specialist awards (see page 6).

AHMM's Simon Allford said that award was 'very good news', but added that the practice aims to enter Monsoon again next year for a RIBA gong. 'With a different jury, a different complexion and different interests, it might stand a chance, ' he said.

A scheme by Michael Hopkins and Partners in Nottingham clinched a prize last year after reapplying, having been passed over. And AHMM's CASPAR housing project in Birmingham picked up a British Construction Industry Award but did not even get a visit from an institute jury. 'That's just the way it goes, ' said Allford.

McAslan, whose firm picked up the job to design new 15,000m 2teaching and administration facilities for City University in Clerkenwell, London, this week, was unavailable for comment.

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