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Fosters suffers again in US as hotel HQ tower is scrapped

A Foster and Partners-designed headquarters for the billionaire Pritzker family's Hyatt Hotel Group in Chicago has been cancelled. The setback is Foster's second US project to suffer from the worsening economic climate following last month's terrorist attacks. Development of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, also designed by Foster, was recently put on ice until the New Year (AJ 18.10.01).

A spokesperson for Fosters confirmed the project was on hold indefinitely as the client was 'reassessing their requirements'. Foster and Partners affirmed earlier this year that it had been commissioned to design a 50-storey tower anchored by the headquarters of the hotel group (AJ 25.01.01).

Construction was scheduled to begin in February.

Project developer John Higgins, chairman and chief executive of Higgins Development, told the Chicago Tribune: 'It doesn't seem like the right thing to do, given the uncertainty of the times. The travel and leisure industry has definitely felt the effects, and I can't image that Hyatt would be immune.'

Miles Quest, spokesperson for the British Hospitality Association which represents the UK hotel industry, told the AJ that the economic conditions had led to worrying times globally, although he added: 'Smaller independent hoteliers are holding off on building projects. But so far the larger groups seem to be looking closely at their expenditure, but not cutting it yet. Holiday Inn is still going ahead with a £100 million refurbishment of its hotels.'

However, rival Hilton Group announced last week that it had placed its £150 million capital expenditure plans under review. Its refurbishment plans are likely to be put on hold, although the building of a £30 million hotel in Newcastle upon Tyne will go ahead.

The hotel industry and associated building projects are likely to suffer from the continuing economic downturn. The British Tourist Authority, which had estimated a £1.5 billion loss for the UK tourism industry in 2001, has revised this to £2.5 billion following the events of 11 September.

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