Row flares over Olympic design

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A ROW has broken out between leading architects and the team bidding to bring the Olympics to Britain over the design of a showpiece stadium.

Leaders of Manchester's bid to win the Games in 2000 were warned they could lose out through a 'lack of imagination', by Lord Rodgers, director-general of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

But Graham Stringer, leader of Manchester council, responded with an attack on 'dilettante Southern-based architects sitting at dinner parties in Islington'.

The row follows news of the withdrawal of two renowned architects, Sir Richard Rogers and Kenzo Tange, the veteran Japanese architect, from a short-list of four designer and developer teams bidding for the stadium project.

Architects have criticised the competition for the project as being money-led rather than quality- based. They wanted an international design competition for the stadium instead of developers submitting commercial projects for the east Manchester site.

Lord Rodgers said: 'We remain deeply worried that Manchester may lose the bid through lack of imagination and an absence of commitment to high-quality design.'

But Bob Scott, the bid chairman, said the stadium would not be built 'purely to please architects'. It would be there 'to serve the people who use it during the games and the community for years to come.'

Mr Stringer added: 'These dilettante southern-based architects seem to spend their time sitting at dinner parties in Islington talking about Manchester but having no idea what it takes to deliver a visionary scheme like this.

'We are living in the real world where excellence of design has to be married with financial reality.'