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'Value-engineering' sparks funding fears at 3XN's Liverpool scheme

Funds set aside for the interior of 3XN's controversial £50 million Museum of Liverpool, on the city's Fourth Grace site, are being siphoned off to pay for the building's striking travertine stone facade, it has emerged.

A source close to the scheme - on which Manchester-based practice AEW is the enabling architect - described the financial manoeuvring as 'value-engineering', saying that 'money is being taken from one package to pay for another'.

The source confirmed that Museum of Liverpool owner, National Museums Liverpool, now needs to find a significant but undisclosed sum of money to complete the interior.

The price hike has been blamed on Liverpool's 2008 European City of Culture festivities, which have increased the cost of securing skilled contractors capable of building the Danish practice's complicated design.

The scheme, which replaced Will Alsop's proposed Cloud project, has had a troubled life, with problems reaching a peak in January 2006 when crucial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund was withdrawn ( Architect rebuts claims that latest Fourth Grace effort is dead ).

But today (30 April), despite not having the necessary funds in place to complete the entire scheme, TV super chef Lloyd Grossman is leading a breaking-ground ceremony to mark the start of the museum's construction.

The museum's exterior is expected to be completed in time for the 2008 cultural celebrations, with the interior - if funding is secured - completed in 2010.

A spokesman for National Museums Liverpool said: 'The fit-out budget for the Museum of Liverpool has been established and protected for a number of years. There has been, and will be, no subsidy to base build costs from exhibitions.'

by Max Thompson

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