Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has called for a halt of the £175m Garden Bridge over concerns that Thomas Heatherwick, the winner of the contest to design the bridge, has not been selected through a fair process.
An investigation has been launched into the procurement process as concerns were raised regarding the selection of Heatherwick as the designer for the bridge that is being built over the river Thames in London.
The Guardian reported that London Mayor Boris Johnson has allegedly met Heatherwick two weeks before Transport for London (TfL) invited Heatherwick Studio to make a bid for the project.
Johnson and Heatherwick’s meeting with Apple officials in California to discuss possible sponsorship before selecting the winning design is also being questioned.
However, City Hall and TfL have denied the allegations that the tendering process was held in favour of winning designer Heatherwick, ITV reported.
RIBA president Jane Duncan said: "The allegations relating to the procurement of the Garden Bridge are extremely concerning. All those who bid for work have a right to expect that their submissions will be judged fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law.
"Given the high profile nature of this project, the amount of public money at stake and the seriousness of the allegations, we would urge that the project is put on hold and the whole procurement process is then opened up to detailed scrutiny.
"This is by no means a comment on the work of the immensely talented Heatherwick Studio and Arup teams. Our concerns are about the fairness and transparency of the procurement process."
The 366m-long footbridge with a garden will stretch across the river Thames, from the top of Temple underground station on the Northbank to the South Bank.
The bridge is being designed to offer pedestrians a series of unique spaces throughout the garden with plants, trees and shrubs indigenous to the UK, Northern Europe and other parts of the world.
Image: Garden Bridge will be a 366m-long footbridge across the river Thames. Photo: courtesy of Garden Bridge Trust.