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

Believe it or not, I’m actually paid to keep my ear to the ground and my eyes peeled for the latest trends in the construction industry.

It’s a tough call. When adopting this bizarre contortion, all I’m really aware of is the acute discomfort.

Nevertheless, I usually start the week with a bit of gentle Googling in the hope I’ll get a handle on the construction zeitgeist. I’ve noticed that this week the question on everybody’s lips is: “what on earth are we going to call the 2012 Olympic Stadium?”

You might think that’s a stupid question. After all, why not call it the ‘2012 Olympic Stadium’? But it’s not as simple as that. These days you can’t have a new, expensive piece of architecture added to the London skyline without first giving it a nickname - one that’s descriptive of its shape and, if possible, a little bit cheeky.

I first became aware of this new regulation when Ken Shuttleworth’s design for the Greater London Assembly was unveiled and immediately dubbed the ‘Glittering Gonad’. Then came the ‘Erotic Gherkin’, subsequently abbreviated to ‘30 St Mary Axe’. Now we have the ‘Shard of Glass’, which sounds like a Blondie single but looks like an upside-down icicle. (Incidentally, ‘Upside-down Icicle’ was rejected as a nickname by the Commission for Architecture in the Built Environment, despite strong local support.)

So come on then, what are we going to call the 2012 Olympic Stadium? The design was unveiled a week ago and time’s running out. So far, under the guidance of Construction Minister Stephen Timms, the Architectural Nickname Commission (ANC) has drawn up a shortlist of possible contenders.

Three fall squarely in the ever-popular lavatorial category: the ‘Meccano Toilet’, the ‘Dilated Sphincter’ and the ‘Easy-on Condom’ (which, if you ask me, takes a bit of explaining).

However, considering the fact that the Queen might be expected to inaugurate events here, it is thought that the authorities will prefer one of the options from the inspirational category such as ‘Doughnut of Joy’ or the ‘Triumphal Juice-extractor’.

Personally I prefer Ken Livingstone’s wonderfully neo-Stalinist suggestion: the ‘Beacon Symbolising the Extraordinary Transformation and Regeneration of East London as a Result of Staging the 2012
Games’. But after Monday’s fire near the site of the new stadium, the ‘Athletic Ashtray’ is currently the bookies’ favourite.

Now look, I’m going to mention this once, okay, and then we’ll hear no more about it. It’s the picture - I mean the one accompanying this column, which shows me, with a shovel over my shoulder, squinting into the sun like a half-wit.

This wouldn’t merit even an oblique reference were it not for the fact that several readers have recently been asking for an explanation.

Well, yes I am squinting into the sun and, yes, I have assumed the expression of a stunned mullet.

But of the many shots taken by the photographer, this was the only one in which I wasn’t smiling.

And apparently when I smile I look even worse.