Architects’ Perspective on P3s

June 4, 2008

Last December, Moshe Safdie, the world-renowned architect made headlines when he resigned from the McGill University Health Centre hospital project. Safdie cited the government’s decision to move ahead with the project as a P3 as a main factor in his decision stating that in his experience P3s restrict innovation. This story gave us a glimpse into some of the problems that architects are facing in P3 projects. Now Brian Watkinson has written an interesting piece for Canadian Architect that expands on this story.

For locally elected officials concerned about P3s, this article reiterates what the critics of P3s have been saying all along. As Watkinson points out, transferring risk to the private sector is often unrealistic, and can threaten the integrity of the project, especially when the consortium takes on risks it can’t really manage. Additionally, the quality of the design suffers when P3s are used since architects are allowed little to no interaction with end users. Instead, user requirements are replaced with requirements of the P3 consortia for managing and maintaining the facilities. This article demonstrates a basic truth about P3s: they privilege profit over the needs of citizens and their right to quality public facilities.