April 27 - Designs for the £355 million Olympic broadcast and media centres were branded as "extremely weak" today by the Government's architecture advisor.
The International Broadcast Centre (IBC) design shows "a paucity of imagination" which could even blight the Olympic legacy, Cabe (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) declares in its formal response to the Olympic Delivery Authority's (ODA) planning application.
More work is also needed to improve the "large monolithic block" of the Main Press Centre (MPC), Cabe argues.
The ODA has run all their designs through Cabe, which advises the Government on architecture, urban design and public space, throughout the Olympic project in east London.
A London 2012 design review panel has been established to advise the ODA on the quality, sustainability and legacy of the London 2012 proposals.
Paul Finch, chairman of the London 2012 design review panel, said: "Unless there is a fundamental rethink, then people could be forgiven for wondering why sheds have been removed from the Lower Lea Valley in the name of high quality urban regeneration, only to be reinstated at a much larger scale.
"When we talk about poor architecture we are not just talking about style here.
"We mean identity and character, and scale and coherence, and the creation of a legacy which is appropriate to a site of this importance."
Cabe note that the site had originally been conceived to operate after the Games as a vibrant neighbourhood but detailed planning applications submitted in March 2009 show it will now operate under a business park model instead.
Cabe, whose role is to try and get planners and policymakers to create places that work, argues that the ODA must rethink its strategy.
They need to focus on securing the necessary architectural quality to attract investors and provide the competitive edge which a business park in this location needs, Cabe stresses.
Outline planning permission was granted in September 2007.
A final decision is expected to be made on June 9, 2009.
If the planning authority does give the scheme approval, Cabe urges it to be conditional approval upon improving the architectural quality of the scheme.
During the Games the media hub will support about 20,000 broadcasters, photographers and journalists with a mixture of permanent and temporary facilities.
After the London 2012 Games the media complex is to provide just under 900,000 square feet of business space with the potential to generate thousands of new jobs.
Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe said: "We have consistently and strongly lobbied for both the broadcast and press centres to be on the same site in Hackney and crucially that the buildings are of a high quality, to attract high quality employers and therefore high quality jobs for the people of Hackney after the games.
"Hackney agrees with Cabe that the current design and detail does not meet the needs of the high quality employers who have expressed interest in using the centres after the games.
"I am disappointed, and will use the short time we have left to continue pushing for a better quality building so it can deliver a genuine legacy for the people of Hackney."
An ODA spokesman said: "We have worked closely with our partners to agree a compact and efficient media centre, within the layout given planning approval in 2007, to maximise value for the taxpayer and ensure a sustainable legacy.
"The IBC/MPC works well during Games time and provides a flexible employment space in legacy for a range of potential legacy uses.
"Work on the external appearance of the buildings is ongoing and we look forward to discussing this further with Cabe and other partners."
Tom Russell, group director for Olympic Legacy at the London Development Agency, noted that the majority of the infrastructure being put in at the moment is for the long term use of the area and will play an important role in the post 2012 development.
He said: "Whilst the construction plans are fixed for 2012, we will continue to work with the ODA to make improvements to the design where possible and to look at whether any adaptations are needed for the building's legacy use.
"The media centre will be promoted over a number of years as companies are unlikely to commit until much nearer the time.
"We are at least five years away from anyone moving in, so the building has been designed with flexibility in mind to accommodate the rapid level of technological change that takes place in the industry."