Baytur chases cash for National Library losses

Turkish firm looks to recoup outlay on materials for the axed National Library in Qatar.

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By  Angela Giuffrida & Sean Cronin Published  April 15, 2006

Turkish contractor Baytur is battling to recoup major losses it incurred on the US $200 million (QR728 million) Qatar National Library, after the plug was pulled on the project late last year. Construction Week has learned that the contractor had ordered a major shipment of steel when the Emir of Qatar axed the project. Work on the landmark Arata Isozaki-designed building was stopped without any public statement being made detailing the reasons behind the decision. And contractors remain baffled as to why the landmark development was shelved. ‘Technical reasons’ were cited by the National Council of Culture, Arts and Heritage (NCCAH). “The project was cancelled six months into the contract,” said Argun Yum, a Qatar-based project manager with Baytur. “It beats me as to why — we believe it was to suit the needs of the client. We had already started to ship in steel and other materials, and were working within a tight programme. “We are in the process of closing out and settling the losses we made through material orders and other costs. This is being done with the approval of the client.” Qatar Petroleum was implementing the project on behalf of the NCCAH. And drawings for the building — which was set to be an iconic centrepiece on Doha’s waterfront — were submitted by Japanese architect, Arata Isozaki, in 2004. Turner Construction International was taken on as post-construction manager. Two museums were planned in a 9m high podium structure, from which three 18m wide and 120m tall pillars, accommodating the main rooms of the library, would have stood. The project was going to be built over an area of 44,500m2. “We submitted our drawings and documents two years ago, but the project was then terminated,” said Taro Hayashi, a project architect at Arata Isozaki. “We saw a fax about it at the end of 2005. The information we got was that the Emir of Qatar decided to stop the construction of this project. However, we managed to get our design fee back.” The national library was among three major cultural projects planned for Qatar under a $15 billion tourism masterplan unveiled in 2004. A 11,000m2 photographic library was also in the planning stages, as well as a re-developed national museum. But it is not known whether these projects will now proceed. “We don’t know what is happening with the other two projects at the moment,” said a spokesperson for Qatar Petroleum. “The National Library project has been stopped, we don’t know why, it was a decision taken by the client.” The NCCAH was unavailable for comment.

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