There is no chance of a reconciliation between Richard Horden Associates and the promoters of Glasgow's £8.5 million Millennium Tower, following the firm's removal from the project in a dispute over time and cost.
The practice won a Glasgow Development Agency-backed international design competition chaired by Norman Foster in 1992 to create a 140m tower in the city centre. The site was subsquently shifted to Pacific Quay, where the Lottery-funded Science Centre is being built to designs by the Glasgow office of Building Design Partnership.
The project client, Glasgow Science Centre, says it transferred the project to bdp because of schedule and budget problems. 'We cannot be blown off course in meeting these objectives by exposing the project to delays and excessive additional costs,' said Paul Smith, the centre's director. The total cost of the scheme is £71 million and it is due to open fully in 2001.
Billie Lee, a director at Richard Horden Associates, declined to comment. He said: 'There is no arrangement in place for us to have any more involvement. It is very odd. We are very sad, but we want it built and won't do anything to prevent it. We hope bdp does a good job.' Requirements were increased by an extra 500m2 of floor area under a revised budget set in 1995, he said. There were 'significant cost exposures' in structural areas, such as the turning mechanism for the tower.
Colin Allan, a director at bdp, said the firm would have no design relationship with the tower's creator. 'We worked on the exhibition centre and 3D cinema but have not worked with them. We will be doing minor refinements and producing information packages for the contractors.'
Deyan Sudjic, director of Glasgow 1999, said: 'It is like a marriage that has gone wrong and I don't want to add to the grief. It was a breakdown in relationships. What is important is that Richard Horden doesn't disown what is installed.' It is understood that while Horden has assigned copyright in the design in order to see it achieved, he will retain full design credit as the architect.
Critic Gavin Stamp dismissed the tower as a 'silly, slick mediocrity'. He said the client should have chosen a scheme by Ian Ritchie Architects and architectural consultant Neil Baxter Associates to recreate the Tait Tower built for the Glasgow Empire Exhibition of 1938. Baxter said: 'This is a highly expensive way of achieving a one-line gag, a tower that revolves. Or it may be seen as the exclamation mark at the end of a dramatic sentence and very necessary to the design.'
However, the recreation of the Tait Tower was never part of the 1992 competition.