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Non-architects may consider it fashionable to claim an interest in architecture, but with Brian Roper, economist and vice-chancellor of the University of North London, the interest is genuine. He is a Frank Lloyd Wright fan, subscribes to the aj, and spent Christmas reading a book about Tadao Ando. Far more importantly, he is presiding over a programme of brave and imaginative building, of which the appointment of Zaha Hadid to design a vital link footbridge is only the latest example.

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