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12May94 UK: LAING MOVES IN ON £36M CITY JOB - NUMBER ONE POULTRY.

By Russell Dean and Brian Warner.Laing looks set to win a prestigious £36 million office building contract in the City of London ahead of German firm Bilfinger and Berger - although it is understood that Laing did not originally send in the lowest price for the job.Sources have confirmed that Laing is almost home and dry for the controversial 21,000 sq m project on the site of the old Mappin and Webb building at Number One Poultry, close to Mansion House.But it is understood that contract has still not been officially signed.And sources have also confirmed that initially the client, City Acre Investment Trust, was poised to award the job to Bilfinger, which was in the final stages of negotiations.It is also claimed that problems arose when Bilfinger balked at the client's contract conditions, which it felt were too onerous.It is understood a stipulation was included that the winning contractor had to cover the architect's professional indemnity insurance to the tune of £20 million for each case over the next 15 years - the building was designed by the late James Stirling of Michael Wilford and Partners.Sources say Bilfinger claimed that even if a broker could be found to cover the risk, the premiums would be prohibitive.It is understood that the contract also required the contractor to be familiar with design changes, yet have no control over the design team.It is now believed Laing has come up with a price lower than Bilfinger's and is trying to reach an agreement on the contract conditions.Neither Laing nor the client was prepared to comment.The 30-month job, which includes a triple basement straddling two Tube tunnels, will be built using the top-down construction method under a guaranteed maximum price contract.The six-storey office block will include a rooftop restaurant and two roof gardens. CONSTRUCTION NEWS