Liverpool is to launch an international competition to find an architect for a Fourth Grace for the city's famous Mersey waterfront.
City leaders are hoping to attract a major player to design the building, which will sit next to the existing Three Graces - the Edwardian icons that made Liverpool's Pier Head a symbol of the city.
The North West Development Agency (NWDA) last week bought the 2.5ha Mann Island site. The agency - along with Liverpool Vision and a forum of public and private figures - has been considering the plans for over a year. It is developing a brief for the competition, which will be announced next month.
Baron Isherwood, NWDA director of regeneration, said the building will provide a major public space, that will improve the city's image and help with its bid for World Heritage Site status.
'We have been looking to Sydney and Bilbao, and considering how to emulate that, ' Isherwood said. 'The first Three Graces were all office buildings that reflected the important businesses of the time - shipping and trade. The Fourth Grace should be a building that reflects Liverpool today, with an emphasis on education and tourism.'
Alistair Macdonald, project surveyor at Liverpool Vision, added that the site was internationally important and an architect of international stature should be sought.
But architect Peter Hunter, who has produced a design for the site, argued that the graces were all designed by local architects. 'It would be good for a young Liverpudlian to do it, ' he said.