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Architect rebuts claims that latest Fourth Grace effort is dead

The architect behind the latest effort to tackle the troubled Fourth Grace site in Liverpool has hit back at claims the project is dead.

Yesterday the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) rejected a £11.4 million bid from National Museums Liverpool for its new waterfront building, designed by Danish practice 3XN - a replacement for Will Alsop's doomed Cloud project.

However, 3XN's principal Kim Herforth Nielsen maintains the scheme ( pictured) will still be built on schedule despite the HLF's decision to turn its back on the £63 million project due to 'serious concerns' over the museum's content.

Last night Nielsen repeated claims made in an interview earlier this week - which appears in today's AJ - that the development will remain on time and on budget.

He said: 'The building works will be finished for the Capital of Culture 2008.

'The concerns of HLF were not regarding the building design, but about display matters.'

He added: 'It does not concern the design work of 3XN - our work continues as planned. There will be rich opportunity to solve funding matters regarding the display arrangements, since they are to be ready a year after the building itself.'

Nielsen was responding to comments made by Carole Souter, director of the HLF, following the organisation's decision not to back the project on the Pier Head site.

She said: 'There were positive aspects to the application, but we had some serious concerns about the overall costs and lack of detail on the displays and content within the museum.

'While this was a difficult decision, funding from the HLF and elsewhere has already significantly contributed to Liverpool's transformation in time for the European Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008.'

Yet the funding refusal has not shocked everyone on Merseyside. One source close to Alsop's original Fourth Grace proposals said: 'Nobody involved in this project will be remotely surprised by this outcome.

'When it came to the crunch and the museum had to fill in the gaps about how the galleries would be used, they just didn't have any answers.'

The AJ understands the museum is to appeal against the HLF verdict.

by Richard Waite

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