THE firm of architects which designed the Armadillo at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre was appointed yesterday to create a (pounds) 50m national arena on the same river-front site.

Foster & Partners, headed by Lord Foster, which has an impressive portfolio of projects including the so-called Gherkin in London and the German parliament, the Reichstag, in Berlin, has been appointed design team leader of the ambitious 12,500-seat arena project on the north bank of the Clyde in Glasgow.

Developers have estimated that the project will put (pounds) 21m a year into the local economy, sustaining 806 jobs, adding to the (pounds) 92m and 3500 jobs

generated by the SECC at


The development is the first part of the SECC's (pounds) 350m QD2 plan, the second redevelopment of Queens Dock, following the construction of the exhibition centre in 1985.

Chris Connell, partner at Foster & Partners, said: ''It is great to be working with the SECC again, especially on a project of this importance to Glasgow, and we look forward to designing a building that will complement and enhance the SECC's development.'' The SECC unveiled proposals last year to transform its 64-acre site on the River Clyde into a complete exhibition, conference and entertainment complex.

Design work on the scheme, intended to be a national arena for Scotland, has started, with construction expected to begin in 2005 and a projected opening date of late 2007.

Foster & Partners saw off competition from several other architectural practices after achieving the highest rating in a rigorous procedure conducted in accordance with the rules of the Official Journal of the European Commission.

Mike Closier, chief executive of the SECC, said: ''The tendering process was tough and fair, it was measured on merit, price, past experience and fitness for this unique challenge.

''Following careful examination, marking and consideration of tenders, Foster & Partners emerged as the strongest bidder. We are looking for a stunning world-class facility and we have certainly appointed the right team to achieve that.''

The arena will focus primarily on entertainment. Its flexibility will let it stage large and small concerts, children's shows, ice shows and sporting and other spectator events.

Charles Gordon, leader of Glasgow City Council, said the arena would add impetus to the regeneration of the river front.

He said: ''The new arena

will have a positive impact locally, nationally and internationally and will make the SECC the only venue of its kind in Europe to have a purpose-built exhibition centre, conference centre and arena on one site.''

Steven McGarva, director of the Clyde Waterfront project for Scottish Enterprise, which helped fund the SECC's master plan, welcomed the arena and said it would be excellent news for the exhibition centre.

He said: ''The SECC is an established Glasgow landmark which plays a vital role in realising our vision for the Clyde waterfront as an international location.''

He added that the new arena would make a significant economic impact, drawing exciting opportunities to Glasgow, which would benefit the city and the rest of Scotland as a whole.

Foster & partners

l Foster & Partners is a world-renowned studio for architecture, planning and design led by Lord Foster.

l Its work ranges from Hong Kong's new airport, the largest construction project in the world, to a range of door furniture.

l Projects include the Great Court for the British Museum, HQs for HSBC in Hong Kong and London, and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich.

l The firm has more than 260 awards and citations for design, and more than 55 national and international design competition prizes.

l Norman Foster was knighted in 1990, appointed to the Order of Merit in 1997 and made a life peer in 1999.