Tender process for dome space

Imagination’s diminished role in the Millennium Exhibition has been confirmed with the design of most of the dome’s exhibition space going out to tender.

The New Millennium Experience Company, formerly Millennium Central, has invited 22 consultancies to a paid creative pitch worth more than 5000.

The NMEC is seeking designers for 20-30 exhibitions to be housed in two thirds of the dome’s floor space on three themes: who we are (society), where we live (environment), and what we do (culture and civilisation).

The consultancies have six weeks to work up their concepts. No decision has been made on the number to be appointed. Met Studio is believed to be on the pitch list but declines to comment.

Some design groups which have expressed an interest in the Millennium Dome exhibition space are unconvinced by the selection process. Nick Townend, managing director of York consultancy Ideas, says both Ideas and parent company Northcross expressed interest by responding to NMEC “with all credentials”. Both received letters from NMEC last Friday, informing them they were not invited to pitch, despite being one of the largest exhibition design groups in the country with extensive experience of Millennium projects. “I don’t know whether they’ve got it sewn up already,” says Townend, querying whether NMEC is “just paying lip service to the selection process”.

Imagination, which came up with the festival’s overall concept, has sold all the intellectual property rights on to NMEC. “It was clearly impossible for one company,” to handle all the exhibition space, says an NMEC spokesman. “We still have a relationship and they are invited to tender for any work,” he adds.

“It’s always been known that there would be a range of designers and it’s something we pushed for at the very beginning,” says an Imagination spokeswoman. Imagination “is currently looking at the tender brief”, she adds. NMEC creative director Stephen Bayley was unavailable to comment.

The NMEC will unveil its new marque next month. The design of the logo and corporate principles is under wraps. The organisation is also about to appoint a consultancy to design its website, after shortlisting five groups. The three year project is worth 750 000.

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