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3XN and the Museum of Liverpool part company

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Danish practice 3XN has been dropped from the controversial £50 million Museum of Liverpool project – an under construction flagship scheme earmarked for completion during next year’s Capital of Culture celebrations.

The AJ has discovered that Manchester-based AEW, which has been working as executive architect on the scheme, will take over its delivery.

The departure of 3XN, amid rumours of friction between the Danes and client National Museums Liverpool (NML),
is the latest twist in the saga surrounding the museum – itself a replacement for Will Alsop’s doomed Cloud proposals on the so-called Fourth Grace site.

A spokesman for NML said: ‘[We] have recently contracted AEW to deliver the detailed design for the Museum of Liverpool.

‘They take over from 3XN. The trustees believe this development represents the best value for money, ensuring the project remains on schedule and to budget. AEW will be working to the original designs.’

Doubts about the scheme’s financial viability have dogged the project almost from the start when 3XN won a design contest ahead of Zaha Hadid and others back in January 2005.

Museum chiefs took two attempts to secure Heritage Lottery Funding, and the proposed travertine stone facade has already been dropped, alongside ‘a number of other changes’, for a cheaper Jura limestone replacement.

However 3XN’s principal architect Kim Nielsen played down fears the scheme was spiralling over budget. He said: ‘Throughout the complicated process, we have ensured that all architectural solutions were kept within the economic framework.’

He added: ‘The client now wants significant architectural changes, and as a consequence we have recognised that the collaboration cannot continue. We are truly saddened, and we believe that this situation is very regrettable to the project and to the city of Liverpool.’

3XN approached AEW to help with building regulations and contract administration through Christian Wewer – AEW’s managing director and an honorary Danish consul.

A ‘shocked and disappointed’ Wewer said: ‘As subcontractors to 3XN, we found ourselves in an awkward position. Even though we were unhappy 3XN were no longer involved and we were comfortable and confident we could see it through... We will do everything to realise the original scheme within the budgetary constraints.’

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