Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Sign off: David Taylor

News that Al Gore had won the Nobel Peace Prize finally persuaded me it was high time I got round to watching his Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth.

I mean, an Oscar and a Nobel Prize - not even Meryl Streep’s managed that.

So I borrowed the DVD and sat down to watch the film. I’ve got to tell you, it was uncomfortable viewing. How did that scaffold clamp find its way onto my settee? Nevertheless, when I’d finally settled down I found the film totally absorbing, even if the acting was rubbish.

I’m now a complete Al Gore convert. I think a copy of this film should be sent to every building and civil engineering contractor in the country. Then they can cut and paste bits of it onto their own corporate vids for that extra touch of green credibility.

It’s heartening to see our top architects are as passionate about saving the planet as I am. Only last week, our greatest living architect, Lord Rogers of River Cafe, chose sustainability as his topic for this year’s Annual Discourse at the RIBA headquarters in Portland Place.

Lord Rogers berated his audience of snooty architects for their failure to grasp the nettle of climate change. “Climate is changing fast. There will be millions of deaths as sea levels rise,” he thundered.

There must have been plenty of red faces in the audience when they heard it was time for architects to engage with technology and politics and stop all this nonsense of sketching ideas on napkins during power lunches.

“If we don’t take action now, we won’t be here at the end of the century,” warned Lord Rogers. That’s fighting talk from a man who must be, what, 74 years old already?

Who knows what the construction industry will be like in 92 years’ time? It’s hard enough guessing where we’ll be in five. Ironically, the one thing we can be sure of is that the cost of everything will go up, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised when John Armitt admitted earlier this week that the cost of the Olympic Stadium is going to be more in the region of £500 million than the £280 million originally planned.

You may wonder why this is. Inflation is one factor; prices have a habit of going up. Another is the cost of reducing the capacity of the venue from 80,000 seats to 25,000 after the Games - but why not leave it at 80,000? Supposing they all turn up?

What always baffles me when a project cost rockets this way is the unspoken admission that nobody bothered to factor in such inevitabilities as inflation. Are we to assume that if some killjoy were to point this out at the concept stage, the job would never get off the stocks?

Being able to see into the future would probably scare the crap out of most people, but occasionally it would come in handy. I wish, for example, I’d been able to predict that nobody would bother turning up to the Construct Equip exhibition the other week. If I’d known, I’d have gone along and had the whole place to myself.