The Richard Rogers Partnership is vying to make a triumphal return to the South Bank Centre after its earlier ambitions to revive the arts centre ran into funding trouble in 1998.
RRP is one of 61 practices in competition to design the most complicated part of the SBC's £200 million revamp, which includes a new concert hall, British Film Institute Film Centre and enlarged Jubilee Gardens.
Others in the frame include Future Systems and Wilkinson Eyre Architects. But Frank Gehry has disappointed SBC officials by refusing to enter.
'Frank considered it very briefly, ' a spokesman for last year's RIBA Gold Medallist said. 'We've come to a point where it is difficult to expend energy on competitions.' Foster and Partners has also avoided the competition and Caruso St John - tipped as a potential young practice to take on the job - has decided to keep its powder dry and enter the forthcoming competition to revamp the Hayward Gallery.
Judges, including the site's masterplanner Rick Mather, David Chipperfield and Barcelona-based Oriol Bohigas, will meet next week to draw up a shortlist.