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Osborne lands first class prize at LSE

CONTRACTS CENTRAL LONDON

REGIONAL contractor Geoffrey Osborne has seen off bigger rivals to land the deal to build a new £36 million teaching block for the London School of Economics.

The firm is preferred bidder to build the seven-storey structure, which will involve revamping the Government's former Public Trust Office, now known as the Public Guardianship Office. The building has been unoccupied for nearly three years.

Osborne, which is expected to announce the appointment of a new chief executive next month, was one of five firms to make the shortlist for the job on Kingsway in Holborn.

Kier, Bovis Lend Lease and InteriorExterior were all dropped from the competition at an early stage, leaving Osborne to scrap it out with remaining rival HBG.

The firm was told last week it had won the first part of the two-stage tender. A project source said: 'It's all over for the rest of us now. They have been made an award for the second stage, which is just a negotiation process. Obviously something about them made the client sit up and take notice so I'm sure they will tie it up.' The building will contain three lecture theatres, more than 30 classrooms, research facilities and academic offices on the upper floors.

Plans include a cafe and outdoor seating area. The university held a competition to decide whether to opt for refurbishment or new build for the 10,000 sq m of teaching and research space.

Architect Nicholas Grimshaw won the contest, beating five other firms to the prize. The proposals were judged by the university's staff, alumni and governors, who voted for their favourite.

Funds are currently being raised for the development.

Former student Stelios HajiIoannou, founder of budget airline firm EasyJet, has already pledged £2 million towards the facilities and scholarships.

Work is due to start this autumn and is expected to be completed by October 2008, in time for students arriving for the new academic year.

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