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Who dunnit and who didn't? The facts in full


I much appreciate Ken Powell's balanced and supportive article on the new Home Office, 'Home Office comforts' (AJ 10.3.05).

However, increasingly I want to correct printed errors of fact where they are significant.

Over the years, I have realised that an article, when published, is then used subsequently as a reference source; uncorrected 'facts' are repeated and become assumed to be the truth.

A recent example of this, when I wrote to the AJ (5.7.04), is that we are again and again referred to as the architects for the Visage residential scheme by Barratt at Swiss Cottage, London. It is not by us, it is by S&P Architects. Being the masterplanner for Swiss Cottage has often led to this kind of confusion.

I have corrected magazines several times after they have stated that we are the architects for the DSS building at Quarry Hill, Leeds. BDP, and not we, are the architects. We are the masterplanners. In both cases we were not asked to have any influence over the choice of architect, so we cannot in any way be held responsible for the resulting buildings.

The two points that arose in connection with the Ken Powell article is the often-repeated statement that we designed a commercial office building for Regalian. That was a standard speculative building, which was subsequently adapted radically by MI6 (and at great expense, says Ken Powell).

The facts are quite different.

The MI6 building was purposedesigned from foundations upwards. Every room and aspect was tailor-made and developed in lengthy briefings with the government department acting for MI6.

I should also add that the MI6 building was done to a modest budget and was finished exactly on time and below the predicted cost. We were also architects for the fit-out, which was done to relatively straightforward office standards. What then received quite a lot of adverse press was the tertiary fit-out by the department itself, for its own specialist rooms etc, particularly when questions were asked in the House. But let me assure Ken Powell that what was provided as a base fit-out, purposely designed for MI6, was for a very good cost comparable with any office building.

I should add one further point of clarification. Ken mentions that 'the idea of refurbishing the existing Home Office building was abandoned and three Private Finance Initiative consortia were invited to bid for a new-build development on the Marsham Street site'.

The reason it was abandoned was that one of the consortia, when bidding to refurbish the old Home Office buildings, put in two bids. One was a compliant one to do the refurbishing, and one was non-compliant to build new on the site at Marsham Street. This was entirely the idea of our client, led by Godfrey Bradman, and was an idea that proved to be such a good one that, in terms of fairness, the other two bidders were asked to make subsequent bids on the Marsham Street site as well.

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