Problems that predate a design
Cambridge’s recent procurement study misses a central reason why buildings end up in disputes
It has taken Cambridge University three years of research to conclude that the procurement process for arts buildings is extremely labyrinthine and the construction process adversarial when things go wrong.
Given how slowly the wheel of academe turns, it was unable to include the Museum of Liverpool in its research.
The question, though, is: would the museum have avoided an escalating legal dispute if it had followed a different procurement route?
The answer is almost certainly no because the museum was conceived as a dazzling piece of regeneration that had no real purpose.
The Cambridge study is right to point out that clients need to spend more money at the beginning of the design cycle in order to avoid problems later on.
But buildings like the Museum of Liverpool do not end up in legal battles just because their steps are defective or water has leaked into the room below, but because human error demanded that they be built in the first place.