BDP won the competitive tender to provide architectural and building design services. CH2M won the tender for programme, project and cost management services.
The Palace of Westminster, home to the UK parliament, is a Grade I listed building. Together with the neighbouring Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church, it forms the Unesco Westminster World Heritage site.
Since its construction in the mid-1800s, many features and systems in the Palace have had little work done; heating, ventilation, water, drainage and electrical systems are antiquated. An urgent programme of mechanical and electrical (M&E) repair work that began in 2009 only protects the Palace until 2020 and only addresses those systems at highest risk of failure. The new contracts will provide for a new round of medium-term M&E work, to ensure that the Palace remains safe and habitable beyond 2020.
The work will also include detailed exploration of the condition of the building, a building-wide security strategy, planning for a major programme of asbestos removal, and fire safety improvements.
Parliament expects to spend around £12m under these two contracts over the rest of this financial year.
This preliminary work is in advance of the wider Restoration & Renewal Programme for the Palace of Westminster, but will lay the groundwork for a longer-term strategy that will protect the heritage of the building. MPs and peers have yet to make a final decision whether they will move out for six years to let the builders in to carry out £1bn of refurbishment work (£3.5bn total cost) or to stay put and have work go on around them for 32 years at much greater cost (£5.7bn). The work to be led by BDP and CH2M will not impact upon that decision but will ensure parliament is ready to commission design work once members have made a decision.
Brian Finnimore, managing director of parliament’s strategic estates team, said: “We welcome BDP and CH2M on board, and the expertise they will bring in architectural and engineering design and in delivering projects. We have seen from other major public projects that effort put into early planning is rewarded later with financial savings, so this appointment now will help put value for money for the taxpayer at the heart of this essential work.”
BDP architect director Tim Leach said: “It’s an enormous privilege for the practice to be entrusted with helping to safeguard the Palace of Westminster, this international symbol of democracy and our society’s shared values. This new programme of work presents the unique and very special challenge of responding to the needs of parliament and its visitors, and conserving its historic fabric for this and all future generations.”
CH2M director Jonathan Baker said: “CH2M has a strong record of delivering solutions for complex and challenging programmes and we are honoured to be working in collaboration with the Restoration & Renewal Team to help preserve and enhance the use of the Palace for future generations.”
The scale of the challenge can be seen in this short film from 2013