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BBC pulls the plug on HQ architects for new trio

The BBC last week delivered a £100 million snub to EPR, Aukett Europe and RMJM and scrapped their proposals for a major new building at White City, west London.

The corporation has now drawn up a new shortlist of Ian Ritchie Architects, Allies & Morrison and John McAslan & Partners to replace them. The move triggered anger among architects at the rejected practices.

The original shortlisted trio submitted designs for the 60,000m 2new broadcasting building in April but only last week were told they would not be working on the high-profile project.

'I don't know what they're up to. We're all a bit annoyed at having done the work, ' said an architect from one rejected practice. 'It seems that with the BBC, one week you're on the table and the next week you're not and we have been given no reason why, ' commented another. 'We were going to get a debriefing but that hasn't happened.'

The practices were given a £20,000 honorarium to cover the costs of the work, but one said that the sum did not come close to matching the figure.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: 'We had an original shortlist and they have not been selected. But I want to stress that this does not mean that they will not be working with us again.'

The move appears to mark a change in direction for the building, which is urgently needed to solve the BBC's accommodation shortage in central London.

'There seems to be a division within the BBC between those who want signature architecture and those who favour big commercial practices where you know what you are getting, ' one architect close to the corporation said.

The BBC is currently shaking up its property portfolio and is searching for a private-sector partner to share the risk of a £300 million investment in its 522 property portfolio. But the BBC 's director of finance and property, John Smith, said that the architectural design of the White City building would be finalised before the partnership deal begins (AJ 20.4.00). The corporation still hopes to keep to this plan.

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