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Robert Menzies

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Comments (2)

  • Comment on: TfL grilled over ‘unfair’ Garden Bridge contest

    Robert Menzies's comment 21 September, 2015 10:10 am

    Repeats what happend at the V&A in Dundee where a non-compliant bid won over the panel. In that case the panel mysteriously did not keep records of how they awarded the contract as required by law and as defined as a pre-requisite in the European directive covering competitions. The McClelland Report into this abuse totally missed this key point. Curiously, the same thing happened with the Scottish Parliament Building where the panel more or less abandoned the scoring when the favoured contestant looked like losing. The Fraser Inquiry at least queried the process but did not have the power to investigate any criminal acts.

  • Comment on: ‘The worst building in the world awards’

    Robert Menzies's comment 29 June, 2015 11:08 am

    As a senior architect involved in healthcare design for over forty years I repeatedly get complaints from clinicians that the solutions provided by design architects fail to respect their needs. Many of the senior clinicians are sympathetic to change but there is a widespread view that too many designs are aimed at winning awards rather than satisfying the brief.

    On one occasion having presented an outline scheme in block form to a number of seniot consultants I added that the 'architecture' would follow later as the scheme developed and that this was merely to agree block relationships. The reply I got was that these simple blocks were exactly what they wanted. One doctor went further and said she categorically did not want any 'architecture' having just been on a visit to the newly opened Scottish Parliament. Another said straightforward rectangles worked best for them and why could architects not accept that. One consultant was familar with the mantra 'form follows function'. He then proceeeded to cite a number of new hospitals he had visited where the surgeons were having difficulty adapting to the 'innovative' shapes the the architects had come up with to avoid an institutional appearance. The point he made was that old buildings were institutional only in the sense that this was what worked.
    Another phenomenon I've encountered is the reluctance of some staff to move from outdated Victorian buildings. They pointed out that generous space standards in these old builidngs had proved far more adapatable to change than more modern cost-conscious solutions. A number also preferred the Victorian architecture because it gave them a sense of being part of the Institute's reputation which had been built up over many years, whereas modern buildings did not always reflect that connection. For me this is legitimate criticism. Too many architects see the world through the prism of their own beliefs rather than acknowledge that others have a different view.

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