Museum costs balloon by €1.2m

The reconstruction of the National Museum of Art (LNMM) will cost an estimated €1.2m more than originally budgeted, reported daily newspaper Diena Wednesday.

The fact that the already impressive €35m budget would probably be exceeded during the course of the project was already acknowledged by the Riga City Council over a year ago, as it encountered unexpected problems with groundwater seepage and cracking of the historic edifice.

However the scope of the excess funding projected have only now become clear.

Extra money will be necessary to strip down the upper area of external stairway of the main entrance, and to build new support beams for the ceiling. Furthermore, the building's bearing supports require new stonework, while the drop ceiling needs fastening.

The project's manager - Valdis Koks, says that the said improvements were proposed by the project's designers - the Lithuanian architectural bureau "Processoffice". "There have been numerous new drafts recommending various changes, which were not included in the contract. The client orders us to carry out them out, whereas we submit our cost estimates," Koks told Diena, adding that these tasks are justifiable, as, for example, the elevator shaft requires thicker concrete beams for extra security.

Riga City Council real estate department director Oļegs Burovs told Latvian Radio that all estimates are fully grounded to every line-item.

“We’re talking about reconstruction and restoration of an object with which nobody has any experience. Nobody in Latvia has any experience building such an underground volume not for a parking garage, but for a museum collection next to a historic building,” the municipal official stressed.

“Of course, one may criticize the architects {of Lithuanian agency Processoffice} for not having thought about the groundwater levels. Of course, they’re young and green. But the builders are from Latvia, our very own. We can criticize again, but then what? Stop the rebuilding? Yes, we didn’t see the cost increase at first… Any object goes through its changes in costs and deadlines… I can assure you all of this is justified,” Burovs said.

The Riga City Council’s budget will cover the excess costs, which will only be detailed in full in the next two or three months.

The LNMM is scheduled to open to the public by next spring 2016 after submission to inspection for putting into operation in November 2015.

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