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Alsop Cloud losing race to meet 2008 culture target

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Alsop Architects' controversial Fourth Grace in Liverpool is unlikely to be finished in time for the 2008 Capital of Culture celebrations, the AJ has learnt.

The scheme - which was at the heart of the city's bid for the honour earlier this year - has come under pressure to be completed by the start of the year-long event.

However, it has emerged this week that the centrepiece of the building's cultural features, the National Museum of Liverpool (NML), is already behind in applying for the funds it requires to fit out its floors.

A source close to the North West Development Agency told the AJ that this leaves in doubt the building's completion date. 'We are waiting to see if and when the NML will get the cash together for their part of the project, ' the source said. 'If it doesn't happen very soon then we will be behind schedule but they don't seem in a rush'.

He said that there was little doubt that the shell would be finished but uncertainty remains over the interiors. 'It is one thing completing a shed but it is quite another turning it into a fully fitted out cultural institution, ' the source added.

And Alsop Architects' project director Christophe Egret admitted that parts of the project were unlikely to be ready for the beginning of the year. 'I don't think absolutely everything will be complete, ' he said. 'Only one of the two residential towers will be finished in time.

'We only found out about the success of the Capital of Culture bid after we had won the Fourth Grace competition, so the schedule for the scheme has always been tight.

'We are only responsible for the building's shell.

It is up to the NML to get their act together and sort out the design, the funding and the schedule, ' Egret added.

Liverpool council said it was convinced the city would be ready for the 2008 celebrations, even if the Fourth Grace is incomplete.

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