|THE MASTER BUILDER
The first talks with Flemish Master Builder Marcel Smets coincided with the opening of the nocturnal exhibition "Palm Tree & Van den Bout. Transformations of the Urbanized Landscape" at the Book Tower in March 2006. It was agreed that a commission of a comprehensive assessment of the restoration of the University Library and the former Higher Institute for Art History and Archaeology Ghent would be announced as an Open Call in July 2006.
The "Open Call" is a selection procedure, based on the principle of a contest, that is entirely in agreement with the legislation on government commissions and the European Competition Law. It is one of the instruments used by the Flemish Master Builder to accomplish his mission: to contribute to the development and execution of the Flemish Community's policy on architecture on the basis of a long-range vision, in order to help create a qualitative architectural environment in Flanders.
Fifty candidates responded to the Book Tower's Open Call (Open Call 1201). The Flemish Master Builder selected ten of them and presented them to the Ghent University on September 25th, 2006. The university then selected five applicants - three Belgian and two international teams – and commissioned them to propose an approach to the complex issue of the restoration.
The five teams were then invited for a first briefing on November 16th, 2006, during which they were given more details about the commission and during which the premises were visited. During a second briefing on December 20th, they were given the opportunity to ask questions.
After that, the teams were given a couple of months to submit their concepts for the project anonymously. The jury – representatives of the university, external experts and the Flemish Master Builder – were requested to study these proposals, after which the anonymity was lifted on March 20th, 2007 and the teams invited to give verbal explanation.
In close consultation with the Flemish Master Builder, Robbrecht & Daem were eventually nominated. Negotiations were started and the order was finally placed with TV Robbrecht en Daem/Van der wee Barbara/SumProjects/Daidalos Peutz/Bureau d' Etudes Greisch/VK Engineering.