DISTINGUISHED British architect Lord Richard Rogers has accepted the invitation from the Balearic government to submit a project for Palma's Congress Hall, construction of which is due to start early in 2007.
The project calls for an auditorium for 2'000 people, a smaller hall for 500 and a 160-room hotel.
The government, through Inestur, and the city council's municipal works and projects firm Emopsa have set up a company, Palacio de Congresos de Palma SA, which will be responsible for managing and developing the adjudication of the project and its construction.
Council sources said that work on the Congress Hall and the 320-bed hotel is expected to start at the end of 2006 or early 2007, depending on when the contract is awarded.
The conditions for the competition of architects, drawn up by the Balearic College of Architects, was submitted at the end of July to various architects of international prestige. Those who have confirmed their participation include Lord Richard Rogers, Rafael Moneo and Patxi Mangado.
They and three other internationally renowned architects have been invited to submit plans, and two Balearic architects will be selected in an open competition.
The winning project will be chosen from these eight designs by an international jury.
The jury is expected to announce its decision in June 2005.
In addition to an auditorium for 2'000 persons, a room for 500, and a 160-room five star hotel, the project will also include a car park for 200 vehicles, a restaurant, cafe and various multi-purpose rooms.
Both the council and the government stress that the Congress Hall will be solely and exclusively for congresses, seminars and for fairs and exhibitions.
They have also stressed that the final plans will be delivered by the architect in January 2006, and the contract will then be put out for tender.
The site chosen is that currently occupied by the Gesa building, on the sea front which will be demolished.
The government wants a Congress Hall so that it can break into the lucrative congress and convention market, and extend the tourist season as these events are usually held in the winter or spring.
The Congress Hall project will not be Lord Rogers' first involvement with the Balearics.
He designed the ParcBit technology suburb in Palma, although the government did not comply with all his specifications, which included a residential area.
His best known buildings include the Pompidou Centre, which was built in Paris in the 1970s, the Lloyds building in London, and the Millenium Dome which was built in London in 1999.