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Design and build still causes worry

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Your news story about the Nicholas Grimshaw lottery project, Millennium Point, made depressing reading (aj 16.7.98). This is not the first example of this happening, but how can the Millennium Commission accept a switch of contract to design and build after money has been awarded on the basis of detailed designs provided to the client by the architect? If the builder is going to build what has been designed, then why change the contract? If the design is going to be changed, who will ensure that the original quality is being maintained?

This dilemma lies at the heart of the mixed feelings many people have about design and build which should be, in theory, a perfectly acceptable way of procuring a building. But who is the design for, and who is to check that things have been done properly? How do clients know that they are getting what they are paying for? How do they think an architect should behave if, having been novated to the contractor, he/she sees things he/she thinks are wrong?

This is not a letter from one of those architects-are-always-right bores, but from someone with some knowledge of building (from a legal perspective). It seems to be doubts about the changed relationships between designer and client halfway through a job which are likely to cause problems - quite possibly to the end user. Let's hope it doesn't happen in the Grimshaw case.


Bicester, Oxon

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