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BFI smashes 'glass cancer' riddle at Avery's £20m Imax

The British Film Institute (BFI) has shot down in flames fears that the sudden shattering of three panes of glass at its £20 million IMAX cinema near Waterloo in London was caused by a so-called glass cancer problem.

Head of estates for the BFI Alistair Herriott told the AJ last week that despite 'hysterical' reports of the problem affecting the Avery Associates-designed building it was in fact vandalism which was the cause of the shattering panes.

'We suspect that it was youths firing ball-bearings from a high-velocity catapult, ' he said. 'They shot them from the edge of the roundabout and had a lot of fun.'

The panes in the Lottery-funded 500-seater cinema building shattered in April and caused the Evening Standard to run an article claiming them to have fallen prey to glass cancer.

But Herriott said the three IMAX panes of about 2m x 2.8m each were sent off for analysis to a laboratory recommended by project manager Mace, and they did not bear the hallmark 'spider's web' features of nickel sulphide problems. His vandalism theory is backed up by the fact that the glass shattered inwards and on non-consecutive panes, although no ball-bearings were found.

The IMAX has now ordered three more panes to replace those which shattered from the original supplier of the £1.7 million glazing contract for the building, Austrian firm Bug Alutechnic. The £11,000 cost of the panes is covered by insurance and the new glass will be installed in September.

The specification of large expanses of glass on highprofile buildings has come under the spotlight since the Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners-designed Eurostar terminal near the IMAX at Waterloo was beset with glazing difficulties (AJ 25.11.00). And just two weeks ago it emerged that a series of Jubilee Line Extension stations in the capital, including Foster and Partners' Canary Wharf, will now undergo a £1 million glass replacement programme - just eight months after opening.

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