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The main architectural contract for the new Dunedin hospital should be awarded in August, Southern Partnership Group chairman Pete Hodgson said yesterday.
Prior to the announcement earlier this month that the city's future hospital will be built across the Wilsons and Cadbury blocks of land in the CBD, the SPG had canvassed architectural firms in New Zealand and overseas about the project.
``It's a huge contract, and it should almost certainly be let in August,'' Mr Hodgson said.
``The decision on which architect is a very careful one because it's one of the most important contracts in the whole hospital.''
While site plans and a building illustration were released when the site for the estimated $1.4billion hospital development was announced, it was stressed they were hypothetical and might bear no resemblance to the final layout and structures.
Mr Hodgson would not identify how many firms had been asked to progress their bids for the contract for reasons of commercial sensitivity.
``We have already tested the market, have found it to be quite competitive, and we have enough interest from enough companies . . . a subset of that number will shortly be asked to put in a detailed bid.''
Mr Hodgson said detailed bids would take some time to draft, but as the contract was for the entire build, they were necessarily complex.
``It is possible to let more than one contract, but it is not anticipated that we would ... in the case of construction contracts, the biggest will be for the main building and I don't see how that can be split.
``But when you get to construction contracts where there will be constraints on the ability of firms to deliver ... we will make it a little easier I think, by splitting off contracts for other buildings where that seems a reasonable thing to do.''
The architectural contract will be the largest let this year, and Mr Hodgson expected various contracts - including for engineering and geotechnical work, quantity surveying, traffic management and project management - would be let before the end of this year.
``The architect's first job will be to put together a master site plan and concept plan, and that I imagine would be ready maybe in January or February next year,'' Mr Hodgson said.
The new hospital is intended to be finished by 2026, and Health Minister David Clark has pledged work on building the facility would begin before the next election - scheduled for 2020.