Leading architect Piers Gough has resigned from the selection panel for a new performing arts centre in Folkestone in protest at the number of large, experienced firms on the shortlist.
Gough joined the panel believing that the £3.5 million project was an ideal opportunity for an up-and-coming practice.
After reading last week’s exposé of the barriers to smaller firms finding public sector work through the Ojeu process, Gough called on the experienced practices on the shortlist to withdraw.
“If arts organisations don’t understand the importance of patronage of newer talent and accept the supposed risk, what hope is there that more establishment clients will ever give such firms a chance,” he asked.
“I would urge the experienced practices who were shortlisted for Folkestone to consider, if they agree with BD’s crusading front page, withdrawing from the competition forthwith.”
The shortlisted practices are Alison Brooks Architects, Austin Smith Lord, Avery Associates, McMorran & Gatehouse Architects, Softroom and Terry Pawson Architects.
Arts-promoting charity Creative Foundation is leading the project, to be funded by Kent County Council. Gough said he joined the jury only after agreeing with the charity that the project should be taken on by a lesser-known architect.
Roger de Haan, chairman of the Creative Foundation and jury president, said: “Mr Gough made his preference clear, but all seven members of the selection committee had their own views on the sort of architect they would want. Piers Gough is not a panel of one.”
One of the shortlisted architects, Terry Pawson, said: “It disturbs me significantly that someone like Piers Gough has decided to stand down... the client needs an architect of quality on the jury.”
But Peter Lyon at Austin-Smith Lord said his practice had no intention of withdrawing.