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FCBS and Haworth Tompkins 'too busy' for Olympic work

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) and Haworth Tompkins have turned down the chance to design the first phase of the 2012 Olympic Park’s £2 billion Athletes’ Village.

Both practices rejected invitations from developer Lend Lease to join the high-profile East London development, saying they were ‘too busy’.

The rebuttals come amid fears that too much of the project has already been designed.

FCBS managing partner for London Julian Gitsham said: ‘We were intended to be in the first phase, but we are just too busy. It was short notice and we could not resource the team.

‘Also, [the designing role] was to be taken from stage D; we would not normally pick up work at this stage’.

And a source from one of the practices which will work on the scheme reiterated these concerns. He said: ‘Lend Lease have already implied that in-house architects might carry out the flat layouts.’

Last week Lend Lease singled out six of the 47 practices initially selected to work on the Athletes’ Village – Glenn Howells, Ian Ritchie, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, Penoyre & Prasad, Patel Taylor and Munkenbeck + Marshall – to draw up the core of the village.

But the AJ can reveal that two of the six are there only because FCBS and Haworth Tompkins refused to take up the role. Of the 47 on the design panel, FCBS is perhaps the most respected housebuilder on the list, while Haworth Tompkins was shortlisted for this year’s Stirling Prize for its Young Vic.

Nigel Hugill, chairman of Lend Lease Europe said: ‘We said to the practices, in terms of giving them a commission, that we wanted to tell us if they had the capacity to start immediately.

‘It was important they were honest about their capability and we quite understood where they couldn’t. That’s fine. On the basis of their candidness we vowed we would come back to them.’

Gitsham denied that FCBS was preparing to take itself off the 47-strong design panel, but tellingly, when asked if the decision was the thin end of the wedge, replied: ‘We shall see.’

A spokesman for Haworth Tompkins said they would also remain on the design panel.

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