The Richard Rogers Partnership twice gave the 'brush-off' to Roland Paoletti when the Jubilee Line Extension chief was trying to recruit architects for stations, it was revealed at a riba conference this week.
Paoletti said at the 'Role of the Client' conference in the Dome on Tuesday that he visited Rogers' office at the beginning of the project and found it to be 'enormously uninterested'. 'If ever I had the brush-off, I had it twice from Rogers, who later regretted it I think.' The practice formerly known as Alsop Lyall & Stormer, which designed North Greenwich Station, was also originally lukewarm about the idea.
'Seven stations at the end of the existing Jubilee Line in the East End represented nothing to anybody who was an architect' said Paoletti. Ironically he shied away from approaching Foster and Partners, fearing another cold shoulder - only to be buttonholed by an eager Lord Foster, who won the prize of Canary Wharf station.
Paoletti also revealed how individual station projects remained unhindered by reams of paperwork. 'The briefs for every station were little sketches of the design and the basic order of things. The engineers' normal procedural solution was to give a price and tell the designer to fit it out for that.' However, the project director delegated his power to Paoletti, freeing him up to lavish more time and effort on the design.
Construction minister Nick Raynsford used the conference to urge architects and designers to 'forge closer links' with construction teams. 'Achieving good quality is not just focusing on high points and flagship schemes', he said. 'The commitment to good design must be shared by the wider community, it can't be imposed from above. Good design is too important and too difficult to be left just to government or to be left entirely to architects.'
He added: 'In procuring a good-quality project, public and private-sector clients must emphasise value and sustainability not just cost.'