Practices selected to develop the £2 billion Athletes’ Village for the 2012 London Olympics say they are confused and unsure how developer Lend Lease expects them to proceed.
The site in East London’s Olympic Park, which will provide 4,000 homes after the Games, is being developed by Lend Lease Europe, but many of the 47 practices involved are baffled by how the work will be split up.
Lend Lease divided the firms into small, medium and large categories and, in a letter seen by the AJ, smaller firms were encourgaed to join up with larger practices if they thought this might give them a better chance of winning work.
But a source told the AJ: ‘We have been told to form ourselves into teams, but why do we need to do that? Surely someone like Feilden Clegg Bradley or Allies and Morrison can design a building by themselves without the help of a smaller practice?
‘If they wanted us in teams why didn’t they place us in teams in the first place? And who’s to say a smaller firm can’t design a building just as well as a larger firm? There’s every chance a small firm would design a better one.’
Another source, from one of the smaller practices, believes Lend Lease could do more to keep the firms in the loop.
The source said: ‘We received a document outlining the scope of works and a letter, but otherwise we’ve heard nothing. We are ready to go but we need guidance on how they see the role of the smaller outfit in the overall build.’
Nigel Hugill, chairman of Lend Lease Europe, claims he is committed to keeping practices informed, but urged them to appreciate the scale of the project.
He said: ‘We never advised small firms to team up with anyone but merely said if they wanted to then that is fine by us. We are delivering 400,000m2 of mixed-use space in just four years, so we have put the biggest projects as the highest priorities.
‘I think there is a presumption that the largest firms would get the big jobs, and I don’t think any of the smaller firms would reasonably think otherwise. Once we have more momentum, then we will be be a bias to larger practices at the beginning, then the answer would be yes. But will there be a bias later down the line? Absolutely not.’