Winning designers of the Scottish parliament building may, fear Scottish architects, be hounded by politicians and forced to cut design corners and costs to beat a ferocious deadline.
Sebastian Tombs, RIAS secretary, warned that the race to complete the design by 2001 could lead designers into a bitter fight with paymasters and public.
'Design teams are likely to be jumped on by everybody, ' he said. 'If it runs late or over budget the Tories will be on them, and I am worried about the tight timescale which makes this a high-risk building.
'It suggests a design approach that could cut options and refinements. That implies a simple approach to structure, cladding and prefabrication. If more time were given, a more reasoned solution might be the result. The tendency is to come up with something you know you can put together quickly.'
The site, of enormous historical interest, could also be the designers' downfall, he said. 'On a greenfield site there are not so many problems but on the Edinburgh site there could well be archaeological deposits and other problems to hold up work.'
He added: 'The pressure will be extreme because there will be a strong conservation and conservative lobby looking for something sensitive. I imagine Donald Dewar will want it to go through the full consultation period.'
The 70-strong shortlist, revealed exclusively last week by the AJ, includes Richard Meier & Partners, Terry Farrell and Sir Denys Lasdun. A shortlist of 12 will be interviewed in April; three or four will be chosen to produce concept ideas in May.
The winner, chosen in June, will have around nine months to design the building. Completion is set for 2001.