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Confusion over role of small practices in Olympic work

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Two of the masterplanners behind the 2012 Olympics have sent out mixed messages over whether smaller architectural firms will be involved in the massive project.

The contrasting statements followed an Olympics conference, in which Bob Allies of Allies and Morrison and Jason Prior, vice-president of EDAW, gave a presentation outlining the scheme's masterplan.

Prior responded to the suggestion of smaller practices working on the scheme with the words 'it's news to me' - despite Allies later stating he was certain there 'would be scope for smaller firms'.

The reason behind the discrepancy could be attributed to the design team wanting to maintain consistency throughout the Olympic Park.

Allies said: 'The smaller projects will be determined later in the process, and there will have to be the right balance in design consistency. However, there should be scope for smaller practices.'

The difference will keep smaller firms hoping for a piece of the pie very much in the dark, and will be a real worry to the RIBA.

RIBA regional chair Andrew Hanson stated last month that the organisation 'intended to launch a campaign' to ensure the inclusion of smaller firms after learning the news of the velodrome project going out to competition (AJ 31.08.06).

When Prior was told of Hanson's intent to campaign, he said: 'Well, good for him. It is too early to talk about procurement for some of the smaller projects.'

The news that one half of the masterplan design team might be unwilling to allow smaller firms to be involved may make the campaign harder than first thought.

by Richard Vaughan

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