English Heritage (EH) last week scrapped plans by Edward Cullinan Architects and Sidell Gibson Architects for a new visitor centre at Stonehenge, triggering calls for compensation from outraged architects.
Edward Cullinan Architects has been working intermittently on the project for eight years and partner Robin Nicholson said that the practice was led to believe that it was the preferred bidder in the PFI competition. But in a shock move this week English Heritage's chairman, Sir Neil Cossons, declared that none of the competing schemes fitted the bill. 'None of the bidding consortia has produced a scheme which satisfies all of English Heritage's criteria for a world class heritage visitor centre, 'he said.'We are therefore closing down the current visitor centre procurement process.'
Nicholson responded: 'We've been working with contractor Fitzpatrick in a serious PFI proposal and they are seriously pissed off.'He added that all the bidders should be compensated for the work they have done.
But despite the blow, Nicholson refused to rule out retendering for the work. 'We remain completely fascinated by the site and we are technically still the site's masterplanner, ' he said. 'We look forward to taking Neil Cossons through the recent history of the visitor centre so we can discuss what he might do.'
The move means that the opening of the visitor centre will be delayed for three years, until 2006.