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McAslan hands over Paradise Street

May 17 2005

John McAslan and Partners has given its final presentation on the designs for John Lewis’ store at the heart of Liverpool’s Paradise Street and has handed control of the project to BDP, the executive architect. Hiro Aso of McAslan said that the detailed scheme had been well received but questions had been raised about how the developer planned to retain design quality during development and construction. John Lewis has also been vocal in expressing concerns that the design quality might be diluted, but Grosvenor could not be persuaded to allow McAslan to retain a role on the project.
Liverpool’s Paradise Street has been heralded as a model for inner city redevelopment, because its works with the grain of the existing centre and employs 17 different architects to guarantee design diversity. However, the fact that some design–led practices, such as John McAslans, are being replaced after Stage D by an executive architect and that the project is being aggressively driven by Laing O’Rourke under Design and Build contracts has provoked debate about the quality of the scheme. “Grosvenor clearly did not trust BDP to design these buildings and they do not trust anyone else to build them,” said one architect. Rod Holmes, Grosvenor’s project director argued that the contractural arrangement is essential given the complexity of the project.
A number of architects; Brock Carmichael (BCA), Page/Park, Wilkinson Eyre and CZWG have been novated to Laing O’Rourke and retained their roles. However, Dixon Jones and Allies and Morrison and others are still negotiating their role with Holmes.
BCA is designing a £2.6 million fire station and an £8 million mixed-use development within old existing buildings, a fact that made retention of the design team important. Wilkinson Eyre is working on the bus station and has been novated because the project needs to be completed early in the programme, Page/Park has retained its role at the request of the BBC, the end user.
Many of the architects involved are sympathetic to the idea of an executive architect given the complexity of the job and programme, but they would also like to retain some control over the construction of the building. The pressure to complete this massive scheme by 2008 is immense.

Greengate divides but survives
Plans for the tallest residential tower in Europe have been reborn as a smaller dual tower scheme. Greengate Tower, one of “Three Sentinels” around Manchester City Centre, had been proposed for Salford by the Manchester practice Arca, only to be rejected by CABE.
According to John Lee director of the practice, “the scheme won’t be as dramatic, or indeed as a tall as the initial proposal but I am pleased we have still been given the chance to produce what I believe will still be a quality project.” When the scheme was initially rejected by CABE, Lee claimed that the non-departmental public body, had not engaged with the project at an early stage, even though it had been invited to do so.
He believes that the project has been saved because it will now be incorporated into an urban-plan for the whole of the Salford Greengate Exchange area created by Feilden Clegg Bradley.
“The overall plan that they have come up with is excellent. We’ve been advised by the council in addition and we can now see much more clearly what role the building will play in a wider context,” says Lee. Along with other urban-planning schemes, the Feilden Clegg Bradley scheme is currently being incorporated into a Salford-wide urban planning proposal by the Italian architect, Maximillian Fuksas.

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