According to the Architects' Journal, Foster + Partners has been selected to design all 46 stations of the new $12 billion metro system in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - a commission that could earn the practice up to £100 million ($160 million) in fees. Planned for a 2020 completion date and a 2022 opening, the metro project aims to remove 30% of Jeddah's traffic within the next 20 years, a significant goal as until now public transport has not been popular: currently just one or two percent of commuters in the city use public transport.
The appointment has not yet been made official, and Foster + Partners has refused to comment. However, if true the appointment comes less than a week after Norman Foster received the inaugural BIA (Bilbao Bizkaia Architecture) Award for the design of Metro Bilbao, completed in 1995.
Design and construction services for the Jeddah metro will be split into three contracts. In May, the Middle-Eastern arm of Aecom was awarded an 18-month, $28 million contract for management consultancy in preparation for the start of construction. In July, French railway engineering company Systra was awarded a contract for preliminary engineering designs.
Speaking to Al Arabiya News about the Metro project, the CEO of Jeddah Metro Company Osama Ibrahim Abdu said: "This project is the biggest at present in Jeddah and it will have socio-economic effects on all parts of the province. Designing and planning an integrated public transportation network on an existing city is a big and difficult challenge, especially since there are other projects being simultaneously carried out. However, planning, the availability of international consultants and learning from the experiences of pioneering countries in public transportation will help in accomplishing the project.”