Egypt’s Culture Ministry has set a 16 July prequalification deadline for the estimated $480m contract to build the 108,000 square-metre Grand Egyptian Museum on the outskirts of Cairo.

The ministry plans to complete a shortlist of approved contractors by early August and to issue the main construction tender immediately after, says a source close to the project.

The contract, which covers the third phase of the project, is set to be awarded in October this year, says the source. International contractors and large local contractors will be given priority status when bidding on the contract.

The scope of the project includes the construction of exhibition galleries, a cultural and educational centre, conference centre, retail outlets, restaurants and landscaping.

Detailed design of the three-storey building has been completed. It includes a free-standing transparent stone wall, which will be erected in front of the entrance to the museum.

The 40 by 600-metre Sierpenski Translucent Stone Wall is designed to provide a second skin to the building by casting an alabaster light across its facade.

Egypt’s Culture ministry is expecting completion of at least 15 per cent of the project by January 2011, with a phased handover starting in 2012 (MEED 14:5:10).

US-based Industrial Construction & Engineering and Germany’s Siemens carried out the first two phases of the project, which included site preparation and enabling works as well as building a power plant and secondary facilities onsite.

European consultants complete the museum’s design and engineering team. Ireland’s Heneghan Peng Architects designed the architecture while UK-based engineers Arup and Buro Happold are overseeing structural engineering.

A joint venture of US-based Hill International and the local Ehaf Consulting Engineers are managing the project.