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BBC tunes in to design - by choosing 21 of the best

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The BBC has this week finalised a list of 21 practices for its framework agreement. It includes 'superstar'practices such as Foster and Partners, Alsop & Stormer and MacCormac Jamieson Prichard, as well as more commercial designers such as EPR Architects, Aukett Europe and Building Design Partnership.

The announcement this week ends a wait of more than two years since the corporation first advertised in the Official Journal of the European Community for architects.

Almost all the architects on the list have been involved with the BBC on previous commissions.Allies and Morrison was selected in June to design a new £100 million office and broadcast centre at White City, beating Ian Ritchie Architects and John McAslan & Partners in the process. EPR Architects, Aukett Europe and RMJM also competed for this commission and all six architects are rewarded with a place on the framework agreement.

Another framework agreement signatory, MacCormac Jamieson Prichard, last week scooped the multimillion-pound brief to redesign Broadcasting House (AJ 5.10.00). It beat Stanton Williams, Alsop & Stormer and Eric Parry Architects, who have also all signed up.

The remaining signatories are Ahrends Burton Kora lek , BDP, DEGW (which acted as consultant to the BBC's property strategy 20/20 Vision), Fielden Clegg Bradley Architects, Fletcher Priest Architects, Harper Mackay Architects, Llewelyn-Davies, Pringle Brandon Architects, RHWL and Swanke Hayden Connell.

'The list is so long because we had such a vast amount of interest from the OJEC notice, ' said property spokeswoman Jane Futrell. 'We have been spending about £173 million a year on our property, but all new buildings will now go through these architects and the new commercial property partner, ' she said. Following the installation of Greg Dyke as director-general, the corporation is planning to recruit its first commercial property partner later this year. This partner will inject £300 million into its 522-property portfolio nationwide.

Major projects under the new system will include the new £30 million headquarters for BBC Scotland, which is to be built at Pacific Quay on the south bank of the River Clyde, and a new £7 million expansion of the headquarters building in Belfast. But the majority of the corporation's property changes will be in London and the South East. One such project is the new premises for the World Service, which is leaving Bush House in 2005.

The framework agreement architects will work alongside the BBC's own team of about 150 architects, engineers and project managers.

Despite the selection of high-profile architects to the list, the BBC's property director Ian Robertson has already ruled out more landmark designs, saying that the BBC already has 'totemic' buildings in Bush House and Broadcasting House.

This strategy was partly illustrated by the rejection of a scheme by Alsop & Stormer for Broadcasting House (pictured below) which proposed to transform the West End building into a major new landmark.

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