Lessons from Fosters’ Heathrow hotel debacle

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  1. I find it hard to believe that Foster’s would make such an incredible error. You would think procedures would be an automatic response after all those professional years.

  2. What a refreshing judgement by Justice Fraser. Blindingly obvious, yes, but in my experience keeping the design within budget is not a skill universally practiced by architects.

    As a client, often I have found architects get far too absorbed in their design to pay attention to affordability.

    Value engineering is not a technique to slash massive cost excesses. A good design must meet the brief and be affordable.

  3. In my experience, Architects rarely have any idea of build cost.

  4. Ihave always found that architects have not got any idea on the cost of their design but in light of this rulling they maybe should have or employ the services of a cost advisor. Also the cost of almost £200 million for 600 bedrroms seems very excessive even for a 5 star hotel?

  5. I have to agree with two of the previous correspondents but I am surprised this occurred with a commercial client where they are usually more careful.

    The Public sector is quite different. 30 years ago I worked in Metro Borough and I am reminded of something our Departmental Director, himself an architect, said at a Management meeting. Addressing the performance of the architectural division and requesting improvement he told them,

    “You can build what you like, how you like and if you overspend there is no comeback except a bit of moaning in a Council Committee. If you don’t think that’s a good environment to work in try it outside.”

  6. Architects are so far removed from actual costs it’s embarrasing.
    Why don’t they stop using old rates and start testing the market themselves. Instead of waiting until the contractor is involved and the reality is known.
    But of course it’s always the client who pays!! And the architect being paid more for VE.?!!

  7. Blinding arrogance on Foster+Parner’s part, in my very humble opinion. Every rule on risk management was broken not because of incompetence- Foster+Partners are very competent architects- but because they assumed they did not need to pay attention to client’s wishes.

  8. I think it should incumbent upon the designers to engage an independent cost consultant when they are directed to design to a fixed budget objective. QS personnel need to be part of the design process from concept to bid stage rather than the usual process of the client engaging the QS as a final rationalization of a completed (or nearly so) design. A review too late in the game is problematic in that it is difficult to reign in the momentum that the project has gained, and the cost of redesign is excessive at that point.

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