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Stonecutters designers lose detail prize to Arup

ARUP HAS snatched the multimillion pound detail design contract for Hong Kong's £455M record breaking Stonecutters Bridge from the original design competition winner.

A formal announcement from the Hong Kong Highways Department is expected tomorrow to confirm Arup and Danish subconsultant Cowi as winners.

Until the news leaked late last week it was widely believed that the Halcrow/Flint & Neill/Dissing + Weitling/Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Group JV would win the detail design work, having won last year's first stage design competition (NCE 14 December 2000). The detail design contract also includes site supervision.

This is believed to be the first time that one structural engineer has taken over another engineer's design in this way.

A condition of the original competition was that design copyright would be assigned to the Hong Kong government.

'Obviously we're very disappointed, and we'll be asking the client to continue to acknowledge the authorship of the design, ' said Halcrow Group director of bridge engineering Roger Buckby.

'We may even bid for the independent checking role. But a result like this could well put many consultants off entering this type of design competition.'

Flint & Neill partner Ian Firth said that losing the detail design work was like 'giving birth to a beautiful child, then having to hand it over to foster parents'.

He added: 'Design competitions are normally about finding a designer, not just a design. Some of those who were shortlisted for the original design declined to tender for the detail work on ethical grounds, and I believe this is a subject the profession has to consider seriously.'

The original runners-up included a Scott Wilson/Leonhardt Andra JV and a joint venture built around top US bridge designer TY Lin International.

Among the runners-up Scott Wilson was shortlisted for the detail design phase, along with Mott Connell, which pre-qualified for the original design competition but was unsuccessful.

Arup did not enter the original competition as it acted with Cowi as advisers to the Highways Department during the original design competition.

With a central steel deck spanning 1,018m, the new crossing will be 128m longer than that of the the current record holder, Japan's Tatara Bridge.

The most unusual feature of the design is the choice of circular section single leg pylons nearly 300m high, with two fans of cables supporting the deck.

Concrete was chosen for the first 200m, with the upper section designed to be prefabricated in steel.

According to Buckby, the cost of tendering for the detail design stage has more than wiped out the £180,000 the Halcrow/ Flint& Neill JV received for winning the original design prize. 'But we entered with our eyes open, knowing the risk, so we can't really complain, ' he said.

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