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Branson Coates feels pinch from Sheffield centre fallout

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Branson Coates Architecture has lost more than half its staff in the past nine months as a result of a lack of work, but is hoping a potential new hotel contract will help it turn the corner. The practice, formed in 1985 and famous for projects such as the Body Zone in the Dome and the failed £7.8 million Sheffield-based National Centre for Popular Music, is down to seven staff compared with 16 nine months ago and 20 at its height.

Partner Doug Branson told the AJ staff had left to pursue other projects - for instance Tom Whitehead, who worked on the Body Zone, had gone into production design. Many viewed the practice as a 'stepping stone' and had not been replaced.

The practice had been afflicted by delays in funding from the Arts Council on the Midlands Art Centre and from associations with the Sheffield project. 'I don't think that did us any favours, ' said Branson. 'It was a really good building, done on time and to budget. But the exhibition was impoverished, a first-year fail and an insult to public intelligence. They trashed the subject.'

Branson said the practice had substantial assets and was not contemplating winding up. It hoped to be in a position to recruit staff if it gets the goahead to start on a new hush-hush London hotel project after delays in acquiring the land.

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