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Thursday24 July 2014

Problems that predate a design

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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.

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Readers' comments (5)

  • I wouldn't say 'human error' - more 'human folly'! But this study was unnecessary; we've known for years that buildings of this kind are destined for problems when they are commissioned by one-off client bodies with little or no experience of commissioning major buildings.

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  • Hope you are reading the Comments AB - Newsflash for you. The coroners office in Leeds has just forwarded the case of a man that was unfortenately killed in Leeds by a lorry falling on top of him due to the high winds caused by a very ugly tall buiding. Those involved in the design are due to face corporate manslaughter charges.

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  • Surely the Leeds case is about a very tall, ugly building, rather than a very ugly, tall building. Aesthetics don't generally create their own weather systems. But it will be a fascinating case to watch.

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  • Is there a link to the report by the University?
    The link in the article take you to another story on the website which, in turn brings you back here.

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  • @ Paul Jones:

    The findings of the project are presented in our book, 'Geometry and Atmosphere: Theatre Buildings from Vision to Reality' (published by Ashgate, ISBN 9780754674047) and in the accompanying film, which can be viewed at www.sms.cam.ac.uk/media/1095045.

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