Richard Rogers has made a personal appeal to RIBA president Jane Duncan, urging her to reverse her calls for the controversial Garden Bridge scheme to be paused
In a letter to the Times newspaper today (21 March) Rogers - a long-term supporter of the project - said he had written to Duncan after she suggested last month the Garden Bridge should be put on hold to allow for a full investigation into its procurement.
‘I would strongly argue against delaying the garden bridge project,’ Rogers letter to the Times states. ‘Given that no legal actions have been launched, I cannot see the justification for stalling this important scheme.’
Rogers’ intervention follows Duncan’s plea for the project to be halted until ‘serious concerns’ about its procurement during investigations by the AJ and the London Assembly’s oversight committee had been openly scrutinised.
A report on TfL’s Garden Bridge design contest published by that committee last week concluded ’that the objectivity and fairness of this procurement process was adversely affected by these actions, which casts a shadow on the ultimate outcome’ and strongly criticised the performance of TfL and mayor Boris Johnson.
The report split opinion among the committee’s members, however. While its conclusions were supported by its Greens, Liberal Democrat and Labour members, the Conservatives produced their own ‘minority report’ claiming such criticism was too harsh given what they described as the challenging ‘evolution’ of the project in its early stages.
Rogers’ letter in the Times warns that any pause in the project could jeopardise its completion.
‘I have sat on many competition juries in my career, including for some of President Mitterrand’s grand projects, and my career was lifted by winning the Pompidou Centre competition with Renzo Piano in 1971,’ it states.
‘In all that experience, I cannot remember any competition that has not been subject to criticism or challenge.
‘We were very lucky in Paris that our client, Robert Bordaz, refused to stop work when we were repeatedly taken to court. He knew, as we knew, that once a project is stopped, it is very unlikely that it will start again.’
The RIBA has been contacted for a response.