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BDP wins Palace of Westminster restoration job

Palace of Westminster

BDP has defeated Foster + Partners, Allies and Morrison and HOK in the race for the multi-billion restoration of parliament

The UK’s second biggest architectural practice was named winner of the prestigious design contract today (18 July). CH2M has meanwhile been chosen to deliver programme, project and cost management services on the scheme.

Exact timings, costs and the final programme are yet to be known and will be subject to a parliamentary debate to be held in October at the earliest although no date has yet been confirmed by the government.

The teams were shortlisted two years ago following an independent options appraisal drawn up by HOK which suggested five main scenarios for parliament’s overhaul.

These ranged in cost from £3.5 billion to £5.7 billion and could see MPs moving out of the building for up to 11 years.

The appraisal was commissioned at a cost of £2 million back in 2013 after a study showed that without significant work, irreversible damage would be done to the 150-year-old building.

The Grade I-listed Charles Barry-designed building, which has been home to the House of Lords since 1847 and the Commons since 1852 has had no major restoration since it was built, and currently has an annual repair bill in excess of £30 million.

BDP, working alongside Donald Insall Associates and CH2M, will initially work on a programme of medium-term M&E upgrades intended to keep the palace safe and habitable beyond 2020.

The duo will also complete a detailed exploration of the condition of the building, a building-wide security strategy, planning for a major programme of asbestos removal, and fire safety improvements.

Around £12 million will be spent on the two services contracts this financial year regardless of any decision being made on a long-term strategy for the decaying building.

The appointments are expected to lay the groundwork for a final decision on the best way forward and all works completed will be ‘option neutral’ as to not affect or limit how the two houses might proceed with project delivery. A detailed design brief, business case and budget will also be drawn up for parliament to approve once a decision is ready.

Brian Finnimore, managing director of Parliament’s strategic estates team, said: ‘We are delighted to be making these contract announcements today, as an important step towards our goal of preserving the Palace of Westminster for future generations.

‘We look forward to working with BDP and CH2M to ensure the Palace remains safe and secure for the more than a million people, including 100,000 schoolchildren, who visit Parliament each year.

‘We welcome BDP and CH2M on board, and the expertise they will bring in architectural and engineering design and in delivering projects.

‘We have seen from other major public projects that effort put into early planning is rewarded later with financial savings, so this appointment now will help put value for money for the taxpayer at the heart of this essential work.’

Tim Leach, architect director at BDP, said: ‘It’s an enormous privilege for the practice to be entrusted with helping to safeguard the Palace of Westminster, this international symbol of democracy and our society’s shared values.

‘This new programme of work presents the unique and very special challenge of responding to the needs of parliament and its visitors, and conserving its historic fabric for this and all future generations.’

Jonathan Baker, managing director of the national governments client sector at CH2M said: ‘We are delighted to have been named as the provider of programme, project and cost services for this important work.

‘CH2M has a strong record of delivering solutions for complex and challenging programmes and we are honoured to be working in collaboration with the restoration and renewal team to help preserve and enhance the use of the palace for future generations.’

In November last year, BDP was chosen for a £500 million overhaul of parliament’s ’northern estate’ office complex. The practice was also picked to create a new headquarters for the Department for Education inside Whitehall’s Old Admiralty Building three years ago. 

A decision was due last year as to how the Palace of Westminster restoration work would proceed, but was delayed following the EU referendum. The earliest any debate on the future of the programme could take place is now the autumn although no date has been confirmed by the government. 

Lot 1. Architectural and building design services

  • Allies and Morrison
  • Building Design Partnership (WINNER)
  • Foster + Partners 
  • HOK

Lot 2. Programme, project and cost management services

  • AECOM and Mace
  • Capita Property Infrastructure and Gleeds Cost Management
  • CH2M Hill (WINNER)
  • EC Harris 
  • Turner & Townsend



Readers' comments (2)

  • Geoff Williams

    BDP is to be congratulated on this award.The electrical system is a key feature of the restorations programme. The high wooden content in the existing structure makes the possibility of fire a particularly high risk. It is important that the electrical supply is secure and the predictability of an efficient internal fire fighting system is essential. This age old famous building must be protected by using an enhanced fire survival cable know as, type MICC. A proven system with fire proof characteristics. It must be borne in mind that cable is taken the length and breadth of the entire building and fire load, spread and life span are of crucial consideration.

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  • Industry Professional

    The most democratic of practices for the most democratic of buildings.
    A perfect match. Grenfell Baines would be proud. His legacy was to create one of the very very few if not the only practice that has continually progressed to greater things rather than slipping into decline after the original founders departure

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