Goldman Sachs’ reputation for hard-nosed efficiency faces a test in the chaos of Indian building standards, according to architects hired by the Wall Street bank. Construction is due to start soon on a Bangalore campus for some 4,000 back-office Goldman Sachs staff, but a report by Toronto-based architect Adamson Associates said the project faces a string of obstacles including shoddy construction, corruption, poor sanitation and an on-site tomb.
“India’s industry standards of construction quality for commercial office space have not yet reached international standards, much less GS standards,” the report said.
It recommended developers “provide extra margins of tolerance (ie a ‘sloppy fit’)” and “not design anything that requires total precision” for the 22-acre site, which is close to a busy stretch of Bangalore’s six-lane outer ring road.
Goldman Sachs and Adamson Associates declined to comment. The bank’s reaction to Adamson’s recommendations is not clear.
The report gives a rare behind-the-scenes insight into the way multinational companies in India view local standards and some locals have reacted angrily to the suggestion Goldman will have to lower its expectations so far.
“This is a wrong notion. A wrong perception is being created. I would like to really confront a person who thinks like this,” said Lalit Kumar Jain, national president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India. “This is a prejudiced mind without really understanding the reality on the ground of this country.”
The reaction to the architect’s report will generate further publicity for the intensely scrutinised bank.
“It’s a bit of a cheap shot for a foreign architect to throw stones at Indian construction standards,” said one international developer operating in India who did not want to be named for fear of drawing criticism. “The standards are not the same but then neither is the cost. And that is why Goldman Sachs is putting a million square feet in India.”
Construction costs in India are about 75 to 80% lower than in London, he said.
But Ramesh Mysore, a Bangalore-based director of corporate real estate at outsourcing company Convergys, which entered India more than a decade ago and has more than 10,000 staff in the country,