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Capital adventure

astragal

The story about the new Greater London Authority building grows ever more intriguing, as the previously withdrawn proposal designed by Will Alsop came back into the frame this week. Nick Raynsford was understandably furious at the behaviour of Sir Jocelyn Stevens, who used his chairmanship of English Heritage in an apparently deliberate bid to scupper the Alsop design. Sir Jos conveniently ignored the fact that the scheme is perfectly capable of modification, and also that an existing permission exists allowing substantial alterations and additions to the listed Victoria House, which could become a hotel. Also, that a supposedly disastrous road closure has in fact already been successfully negotiated. But the worst effect of the intervention was, potentially, to turn the event into a one-horse race, thereby weakening the government's position in respect of further detailed financial negotiations. Any thoughts Sir Jocelyn may have had in respect of becoming the new champion for architecture can probably be consigned to the dustbin. The real winner of the contest, by the way, may be agent Knight Frank & Rutley. It advised on the shortlist of locations considered, was involved in the purchase of Foster's Tower Bridge site, and will be agent for Victoria House if it ends up as a hotel. Nice each- way bet.

The week that was

Architecture Week grew from 220 to 450 events from the first to the second year of running it. The Arts Council/riba event will take place again this year - against a backdrop of an intriguing focus group survey unveiled at the council last week. Although the result of an infinitesimal number of people, some of the praise and criticism struck home - for example, the slogan, 'changing the way we think about architecture', was condemned as a typical example of architects ignoring what people themselves think. Basically the public appears to want the week to be bigger and glitzier, with a more prominent beginning and end. The obvious thing is to run it in conjunction with Open House, but oh supremo Victoria Thornton is unlikely to want to co-operate with the riba, where she ran the Architecture Centre but left following a row over funding. Can someone play diplomat?

Part-time love

The advertisement confirms what we have reported: the government's new 'champion for architecture' post will be part-time ('It is expected that a time commitment of not less than two days a week will be required'). The two days, worth £30,000 pa plus expenses, will be amply filled, if the successful candidate manages to carry out all the functions identified in the ad, which range from leading the new body, exercising strategic direction, chairing a design review panel, forging and maintaining links with professions and government, developing an educational programme, overseeing a grants programme, etc etc. All one can say is: whoever minds the shop is going to be busy as hell. Incidentally, there is no ban on architects applying for the job.

Recon not decon

Le tout Berlin attended last weekend's celebration of the opening of Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin, including a fund-raising dinner attended by Chancellor Schroeder and President Herzog, and a 3000-guest opening on Sunday evening. British guests included Jack Zunz, Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton, Jonathan Glancey, Rowan Moore and Sarah Gaventa. Der Tagesspiegel led on the opening, and contained articles full of praise for the architecture and the architect's ten-year persistence. At the dinner it was noted that the building marked a change in the way Germany could begin to think about, and unravel, its responses to the past and to the holocaust. Its future, including funding, now looks certain. The events were preceded by the globe-trotting Libeskinds' return from Israel, where they had celebrated Danny's dad's 90th birthday with 36 other family members - using the architects' air miles to attend.

Perfect profile

Introductions agency 'Drawing Down the Moon' has optimistic news for Britain's male architects (or at least most of them): women think you are doing the most attractive job possible, because of its creativity and responsibility. According to The Times there are downsides, however. For example, most women dislike beards, although wearers may comfort themselves that they are ok if 'worn by somebody of obvious charisma and good looks such as Ewan McGregor or Sean Connery'. Men allegedly like women in public relations best, ideally with shoulder-length hair, curves, fresh faces and natural-looking eyebrows, whatever that means.

He's got a Ronan

Sam Webb stood up in riba council last week to heap massive praise on the moves to send the institute's special collections to South Kensington as 'one of the few creative things we've actually achieved . . . I've always wondered what to do with all the bits of Ronan Point I've got in my garage. Now they can go to the v&a.' Presumably to the Spiral.

Christian Kerez's Mortuary Chapel at Bonaduz, Switzerland, is the cover picture for a new book by Edwin Heathcote, Monument Builders (John Wiley, £50). Authors' acknowledgements at the beginning of their books are often curious, and Heathcote's are no exception. 'Special thanks' are due, he says, 'for the assistance rendered by Mr A S MacDonald and Co-operative Funeral Service without which this book would not have been possible.'

Three of a kindby 'Mayo'

Michael Clements of Farnham, Surrey, won champagne for identifying last week's triple - the theme was Scott, as in the Giles Gilbert Scott telephone kiosk, enclosing Scott of the Antarctic, and the National Gallery extension by Venturi Scott Brown. As usual, send answers to this week's puzzler on a postcard (preferably surreal) to aj Astragal, l151 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4QX, by Monday am. In emergency fax 0171 505 6701.

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