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Sacrosanct Specification G#4721

By 20 November 2015February 23rd, 2016Daily Updates


Sacrosanct Specification

New Street Station Birmingham. P.17 RIBAJ November 2015

Bob Ghosh’s Article 

Having been involved in an earlier large project in Birmingham, I was disappointed to read the article by Bob Ghosh about New Street Station.

He said the new building “could have been a masterpiece” but the probable reason for it not receiving this accolade might have been that the management contractor (who was also the design manager) “brutally value engineered” the cladding to reduce the cost.

This is an example that demonstrates the diminishing role of the Architect and may make more necessary the pragmatic educational suggestions put forward by Sir Stuart Lipton, in his article in a previous RIBAJ (September 2015).

In is my opinion that if there had been sacrosanct specifications, then the design might not have been compromised.

Yours sincerely,

Howard de Mont.

A second article appears in the RIBA Journal about Bullring Station Birmingham originally designed Super Trendy Foreign Office, now renamed and regrouped and off the job.

  • Finally the station is almost complete bar the two temporary barriers manned by heavies to prevent passage.
  • They make the station a pedestrian nightmare walking 500 meters between platforms via ‘coloured lounge’ to central concourse to ‘coloured lounge’ to platform, instead of 20 meters, negotiating 2-4 ticket barriers without really understanding if your ‘in’ or ‘out’ at any stage.
  • The Grand Central is vast and a vibrant public thoroughfare added to by those short cutting through the block,
  • But its bordering on incomprehensible with those temporary barriers;
  • ‘coloured lounges’ devoid of their identifying colours (too b obvious for high brow architects? or VE’s out?)
  • The peripheral retail feels so peripheral that train information focused footfall may fall a bit short.

In the text it states the detail was done for them by WS Atkins and Haskers indicating they could not do the whole project themselves.

The article goes on to say there was an acrimonious split after 8 years on project so Foreign Office left.

It might have been to do with Value Engineering done by MACE on the roof, so the usual culprits again.

  • Yes and the VE shows in the creases in the stretched fabric of the atrium ceilings’ sinuous shapes.
  • It looks good with your glasses off and terrible with them on.
  • Sadly the bolt on mirror stainless steel frippery facade looks terrible too, bad geometry, misalignments, dents and bad reflections.
  • No spec could have solved the facade geometry but could have improved the appearance “aligned joints, no dents and good reflections”
  • A good spec could have improved the ceiling. “No creases”.

I feel it worth noting if there had been a spec by you and I in place, we would have been able to overcome BIM in the first article and MACE’s Value Engineering in the second article with our text and MACE would not have been able to drive a train through it (see article in The Guardian)

I hope you agree.

I had not expected to still feel angry with all this.

  • I am giving a CPD about spec in the NBS world on Thursday I think I may turn this response into another CPD seminar or a page on Green Building Encyclopaedia.

GBE Jargon Buster

GBE Conversations

Specifications within BIM G#4394

© HdeM & BrianSpecMan
12th November 2015 – 23rd February 2016

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