Council chiefs in Manchester have admitted they might have to tear down the B of the Bang sculpture, commissioned to commemorate the 2002 Commonwealth Games held in the city.
It is the first time the council has publicly admitted the original structure might be beyond saving and comes just weeks after the authority annouced it had started a £2 million legal battle against the design team which includes the Heatherwick Studio, structural engineer Packman Lucas, consultant Flint and Neill and steel fabricator, Westbury Structures.
The move follows more than two years of problems with the over-budget £1.42 million sculpture. Less than two weeks after it was unveiled in January 2005, one of the 175 spikes fell off and four months later a second spike failed just 24 hours before vibration-reducing dampers were due to be fitted. A third spike had to be removed in September.
In its claim, filed at the Technology and Construction Court in London, the council admitted: 'As a result of the serious defects in the sculpture, Manchester City Council [MCC] has not received the benefit of what it contracted for.
'The only way that MCC will receive what it contracted for is for the entire structure to be taken down and rebuilt, or alternatively for all of the existing 7m-long spike tips to be removed and replaced.
'A number of cracks have also been found in about a quarter of the spikes, making in situ repairs effectively impossible – leading to the sculpture being dubbed the "B of the Botch" by locals. The council is claiming £1.6 million, which is what it says it will cost to rebuild the sculpture to the necessary safety standards, as well as a further £400,000 for repairs, testing and health and safety costs.
Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein told the AJ's sister publication Construction News: 'The project has taken too long to bring forward although we have given the artist and their subcontractors every opportunity to remedy the situation.'