The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment has branded the design for a new library complex in Brighton 'an exemplary private finance initiative project' even before it has been submitted for planning. The library is the centrepiece of a £45 million mixed-use scheme and has been designed by Bennetts Associates with Lomax, Cassidy & Edwards. Normally CABE keeps its views on pre-planning schemes confidential and this unusual statement will be seen as an attempt to step up the pressure on other PFI clients to put design at the centre of the procurement process.
'The reason we think this is a good design is that when they [the client] decided to go down the PFI route they appointed an architectural consultant to advise them on the whole process, ' said chairman of the design review committee Paul Finch. 'They made clear to potential bidders that there would be a design quality threshold and they did a thorough assessment of designs that bidders submitted. They also came to see CABE informally at an early stage when they had a shortlist of three.We see no reason why that method of working, where you establish a need for good design, should not spread. It means that bidders know where they stand.'