A lavish evening to celebrate the 'Spirit of Partnership' at Bluewater shopping centre held many delightful surprises - guests were serenaded by local school children and marvelled at an Irish dance troupe, before one wall of the temporary pavilion where the dinner was held opened to show the centre in all its glory, while a water spray became a projection screen. Chair of the developer Lend Lease, the urbane Stuart Hornery, donned a Manchester United scarf: but someone was missing. Where was the architect Eric Kuhne? 'He thought it should have been done differently,' a source confides.
Fight to the death
Gloves are off down at the Construction Industry Council, where the immediate post-Latham period was marked by touchy-feely co-operation. But the contractors and sub-contractors couldn't hide their mutual antipathy for too long and chair Robin Nicholson has decided that grievances should be aired. 'It's quite New Labour,' he confirms, 'very 'joined-up thinking'',' but it may be too late to prevent the government's headlong charge to deliver power into the hands of the contractors - and this after the spectacular success of design-and-build procurement of the dome zones. The cic, together with the Construction Federation, materials producers and subcontractors, has a long-arranged meeting today with Steve Robson, the Treasury's second secretary. This is a considerable achievement, but comes after the Treasury's procurement guidelines have gone to press. So what chances have they of success? 'Effectively zero,' concedes cic chief executive Graham Watts.
Unattached people in search of leisure and friendship will be offered new opportunities by Lincolnshire company Elysium. It is searching for a site for a £1.4 million 40-room luxury retreat in which singles would spend a total of 12 nights there over the year, at a cost of £1800. Designed by Neil Reynolds for Lindum Construction, the hotel will offer meditation, aromatherapy and mixed saunas in a 'Venetian courtyard' with water gardens, fragrant rooms and fibre-optic lighting - plus a king-size bed in every room.
Distinguished us architectural historian Bob Brueggman occasionally starts his lectures by asking for the slides to be turned on, and up come images of the Parthenon and Falling Water. I never thought this could be upstaged until aa general-studies honcho Mark Cousins relates the worst-ever opening to a lecture he has heard: 'As I was saying to the Dalai Lama the other day . . .'
Where the art is
A splendid reception in Home House where Robert Adam celebrates his practice's new historic buildings consultant: none other than Dan Cruickshank, tv's Mr Architecture. Alas, the defender of all things Georgian has been dragged kicking and screaming into the twentieth century: he now has a mobile telephone! This was by no means the most shocking revelation of the evening. That came from my old friend Professor Adrian Forty, Bartlett sage of history and theory. He has a new enthusiasm: concrete. If I understood him correctly, he believes it can be mined, and is thus an entirely natural product. I look forward to a book on this subject, probably entitled Concrete Objects of Desire.
The Soane Museum has found a new role, as an architectural matchmaker, with its excellent and popular Gehry exhibition, for which enthusiasts are queuing in the street. Both Jersey's equivalent of the Civic Trust and Twickenham council have been in touch, wanting to know how they can commission Gehry to design a building.
Shaken and stirred
Mies' true genius was recently revealed - not the seminal nature of his buildings but the fact that he could work at all in the afternoons. The master religiously consumed two gin martinis at lunch-time, showing that he is made of sterner stuff than those attending the private view of his latest exhibition as part of the Glasgow 1999 festivities. As a homage, gin martinis were served, and most of those attending could scarcely find their way out of the Burrell Collection. Indeed, some lecturers at the Mackintosh school had to be helped home.
In true democratic fashion, visitors to the Architecture of Democracy exhibition, also in Glasgow, were asked which practice should have been the runner-up in Scottish Parliament competition. Who was the bearded Spaniard, lining up to vote for Denton Corker Marshall? None other than Miralles himself, who also hesitated for a moment before answering the question 'Who should design a landmark building in Glasgow - Gehry, Libeskind, Meier, Miralles, Pei?' 'Gehry,' he replied.
P for prevarication
Useful guidance to acronyms came from Nigel Smith of Drivers Jonas at the Vision for London seminar 'Positive Planning for London'. pfi, he told the audience, stands for 'Postpone Funding Indefinitely' and ppp for 'Put off Priority Projects Permanently'.