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George town

While the men and babes in black scurried to the Foundation event, a nice selection of old and new faces turned out for George Ferguson's 'inaugural' lecture, delivered (fashionably) halfway through his presidency. Introducing, The Times columnist Simon Jenkins reminded the audience that architects'mistakes were there for all to see for a very long time, while journalists'were used to wrap fish the following day. George was on good form, with a string of thought-provoking observations. For example, his proposition that 'nothing but the best should be good enough' does rather exclude the good ordinary, doesn't it? On the other hand, his welcome analogy with restaurant food and architecture - 'we should be intolerant of the bad and mediocre' - struck a distinct chord. He showed a ghastly looking hotel complex in London's Surrey Quays as an example of the hideous, without revealing the architect (champagne for information).

Other comments covered the New York Prada store ('a very easy place not to shop'), the listing system ('we should have an ex-list for buildings that should be demolished'), planning ('we are all urbanists now'); and architectural education. His big idea is giving all architectural students free membership of the institute, starting in January next year.

Oh, and a foundation course of one year for all design and construction disciplines.

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