Times accusations of penny-pinching are ‘nonsense’ says Project Director at Riverside Museum Project
Glasgow City Council have hit back at the Sunday Times, a national British newspaper who yesterday accused them of cutting back expense at the cost of design at the Riverside Museum Project. The article referred to “Documents obtained by the Sunday Times (that) reveal the original plan — designed by Zaha Hadid, one of the world’s top architects — is being altered to save millions of pounds on the construction costs.” However this information has been available in the project’s financial reports since June 2007, says Lawrence Fitzgerald, Project Director for the Riverside Museum Project: “The Times article is so out of date," he said, "In developing any project you go through specific reviews. Some are cost neutral and some work out as cost efficient.”
Responding to the accusations that the changes are a money-saving initiative, he added: “I think in the context of a council and the Heritage Lottery fund spending £74 million on a regional museum it can’t be considered penny-pinching. It’s 10,000 sq m, that’s £7400 per square metre – that’s not penny pinching by any stretch of the imagination.”
Zaha Hadid Architects design for Glasgow’s Riverside Museum is set to be a landmark building for the city. Situated on the Riverside at the junction where the rivers Kelvin and Clyde meet, it will be an iconic modernist structure for the post-industrial city. Fitzgerald advised that the changes were part of the normal design process and would reflect positively on the building: “With regards to the lobby redesign, in both instances the changes came from them (Zaha Hadid’s office). There’s a lot of thinking in the design and they think about things further particularly when contractors are about to come in.
“Changes in the ceiling are just to the secondary steel work. There would be no difference in what visitors would see or understand.”
He advised that Buro Happold, the engineers for the project, were originally unsure that the lighter materials which have been included in the re-work of the designs could be used, but that their inclusion was not only cost effective but positive for the design.
Fitzgerald also divulged his frustrated with the Sunday Times negative references to ‘starchitects’ including Zaha Hadid in quoting Gavin Stamp, an architect-ural historian and writer as saying: “If you’re going to commission someone like (Zaha Hadid) you should expect to go way over budget. It’s all about going for superstar, iconic architects.” Fitzgerald advised that his experience with Hadid’s office has been nothing like the diva experience inferred in the article. “Certainly my only experience of working with a star architect has been a very positive one. They have been practical, pragmatic, engineering-conscious, imaginative. They are aware of the constraints and they understand budgets and respond very imaginatively.”
The current Transport Museum is the second most popular free attraction in Scotland and it is hoped that the new Riverside Museum, schedule to complete in 2011, will be just as popular.
Niki May Young