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Hopes of new building for London mayor and assembly

The Government Office for London is considering procuring a new building to house the new London mayor and Greater London Authority, and its architect could be chosen by competition.

The GoL commissioned Knight Frank to look at prospective new homes for the new body. Its brief, set out in the government white paper on the issue, was to research 'a range of buildings in central and inner London to see which provided suitable accomodation at a reasonable cost'. Now, however, Knight Frank will be looking at sites in inner London as well as at buildings such as the Admiralty Arch, which it can convert into a mayor's office, assembly chamber and committee rooms.

London First, which is taking a keen interest in what will be an important symbol of the capital's new governance, has contacted the Architecture Foundation about the possibility of staging a competition for a new building. Deputy chief executive Robert Gordon Clark said, 'In an ideal world it would be nice to start from scratch, but the white paper mentioned set- up costs of £20 million and it's not clear what that includes.'

If the GoL does go down the refurbishment of existing offices route, it may turn to the often-touted Admiralty Arch building at the end of the Mall. But London First considers the building inappropriate in terms of the space available and the level of 'visibility' it will allow to the public. The white paper says that a single building 'will need to house the mayor's office, an assembly chamber and committee rooms, to which the public must have access, and briefing rooms and office space for key staff'.

Gordon Clark said he had been inspired by Foster & Partners' refurbishment of the Reichstag and its use of glass towards that end.

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