By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.


Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Katherine Shonfield

It's a cliche that personalities have replaced issues during the past two decades. It is no coincidence, then, that it was decided that a single figure - a mayor, rather than an impersonal organisation - was necessary to reform London's government.

Ironically, Ken Livingstone was originally fingered by the1980s press as a 'personality' because he symbolised an issueled dinosaur. Svengali-like, Livingstone transformed himself into a personality, while ditching the political identity.

True to this, in the past nine months Livingstone has been singling out individuals, or individually identifying groups, to blame for or solve London's various malaises - be they statues, skyscrapers or pigeons.

His most successful move has been conjuring up a single personality in the form of Robert Kiley from the US to embody the solution to the most abstract of intractable problems, London's transport strategy. However, Livingstone may come a cropper with his conviction that Lord Rogers himself personifies the Urban Task Force Report, the pan-urban counterpart to Kiley.

It is difficult to know where to stand on this without posturing - be it sycophantic or iconoclastic.

On the one hand, Lord Rogers stands torso and shoulders above any other British figure in making positive, workable arguments for the future of the city. On the other hand, his proposed salary of £130,000 for two days a week makes him the architectural equivalent of David Beckham. But his real problem with the assembly is two-fold.

He does not come from another country - despite his even more enormous salary, Kiley has the glamour of a foreign trouble shooter, a Sven Goran Eriksson of the Tube. And he needs, like Kiley, to to have already proved himself, by 'turning round a city'.

The obvious urban equivalent of Kiley is Barcelona's Pasqual Maragall. Any bets on a possible transfer fee?

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters