Edward Mandla
Exemption from tender by Gelh Architects

Published On: 18/05/2015

I pass no comment on the work of Gehl Architects and understand his work is much appreciated.

As esteemed as Gehl Architects are, they are merely a provider of services to the City of Sydney.

I have sympathy that the City apparently needs his methodology and that he has trained our staff and is ingrained in the City.

He would most likely win any invitation to tender we put out. So lets tender it and at least see what other perspectives and approaches exist. We will at least be better informed than we are now.

This feels reminiscent of the cloud arch selection process. We were told that we might hurt some artists feelings and that we knew better. That is in effect what is being said now.

Section 55 of the Local Government Act says that a Council must invite tenders unless there are extenuating circumstances. Just because you like an Architect does not qualify in the definition in my dictionary.

The Lord Mayor described Mr Gehl as a wonderful man and said “we can't change our methodology mid stream”. The Lord Mayor also said the Mr Gehl gives us comfort as well as statements that he is heavily in demand and wouldn’t consider a twelve month agreement and that he apparently needs a four year commitment. The Lord Mayor went on to say Mr Gehl “is so busy we must act in great haste”.

The Lord Mayor sounds more of an advocate for Mr Gehl and less of a responsible civic leader. I thought I might take this opportunity to remind you that we carry a brief for the people of Sydney, not Architectural firms we have come to like.

If the State Government did something like this, the Lord Mayor would be all over them writing letters and briefing the media. When someone else is building a Freeway, the Lord Mayor demands every detail down to the last tap washer.

But the rules the Lord Mayor makes for herself are always at a lower standard than she demands of others.

As a businessperson, I am always curious as to what the competitor of my supplier has to offer. This doesn’t mean that I will go with the competitor but it will help me learn and give me an ability to work with them better. As a civic leader, I have a higher obligation than a businessperson. Councillor Mant rightly calls this “due process” That is why this matter must go to tender. If they are as good as you say they are I am sure they won’t mind and they will surely win.

Nothing extenuating about that.

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