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Menteth blasts re-launched Cardiff student union contest

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Procurement reform campaigner Walter Menteth has voiced ‘extreme disappointment’ over the conditions of the re-launched Cardiff University student union competition

The founder of action group Project Compass criticised an alleged lack of information regarding the interview’s selection criteria and said the PQQ’s emphasis on design quality was too weak.

He also argued the £1.5million minimum turnover requirement was still too high because a design and build contractor was expected to lead the scheme at a later stage.

Menteth commented: ‘The project has the potential to create a civic building for Cardiff so this is disappointing for the profession and also for local citizens.’

However a spokesperson for Cardiff University insisted that the marking criteria for the interview was ‘detailed, clear and transparent’ and that design quality counted for 90 per cent of the assessment.

The spokesperson said: ‘The Interview, which is assessed upon quality, allows the tenderers to present their designs addressing the questions which the University considers to be important for their new building.’

On minimum turnover, the spokesperson added: ‘The university has considered the “necessary economic and financial capacity to perform the contract” and decided that a company having a turnover of less than £1.5m per annum would not have the financial strength to protect the University’s interests.’

The university re-launched the contest for an ‘iconic’ £25 million addition to its student union late last month.

The original Centre for Student Life design contest was withdrawn in February amid criticism from the procurement reform campaign group.  

Key criticisms of the initial competition included ‘restrictive’ pre-qualification requirements and the lack of more than one architect on the jury.

Under the new competition rules – which follow a restricted procedure path – the minimum turnover threshold has fallen from £15 million to £1.5 million and the requirement for Employer’s Liability Insurance has been reduced from £15 million to £10 million.

The newly-expanded ten-strong competition jury continues to feature only one architect – school of architecture head Chris Tweed.

Planned to complete by 2020, the new building will be physically connected to the university’s existing student union on Park Place (pictured, below) .

Cardiff University student union. Image by King4aday

Source: Image by King4aday

Cardiff University student union. Image by King4aday

As well as designing the 9,000m² centre, the winning team will also work up plans to regenerate the existing student union and create a new pedestrian bridge to nearby Cathays Railway Station.

Conceptual plans to pedestrianize Park Place and ‘enclose’ the university’s Main Building courtyard will also be required.

Five shortlisted teams will receive an honorarium of £5,000 each to compete in the competition’s second stage.

The deadline for requests to participate is noon on 15 May.

How to apply

View the tender notice for more information

Contact details

Huw Price
Cardiff University
Procurement Services,
McKenzie House,
30-36 Newport Road
Cardiff
CF24 0DE

Telephone: +44 2920879648
E-mail: buyline@cardiff.ac.uk

 

 

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