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Regeneration: from balls in a hat to regional renewal

editorial

The ability of high-profile buildings to lead large-scale, city-wide regeneration has never been more in focus.

Bilbao led the way, with its Gehry gallery having as much of an impact on the Basque city's airport as on its art lovers.

Here, Manchester has emerged from the IRA bombing with aplomb, forging ahead with a new-look centre, and a sports renewal zone with its centrepiece the City of Manchester Stadium by Arup Associates (AJ 16.5.02).

The Commonwealth Games venue is being seen around the world, a new civic symbol. And, unlike Japan's World Cup grounds, it has a legacy (Manchester City FC will be moving in). Concerted local-authority strategic thinking has also brought about Ian Simpson's Urbis, Daniel Libeskind's Imperial War Museum North and Michael Wilford's Lowry. As a client and as a new place, Greater Manchester will take some beating.

Yorkshire Forward, too, has been toiling to bring new thinking from architects such as Will Alsop to towns like Barnsley. And now Leicester is rethinking its future, bringing in Rafael Viñoly to provide a key building from which other initiatives and schemes can spring, much as Birmingham did under the direction of Les Sparks. Future Systems'Selfridges store will be the main draw there.

The North East is also vying for attention.The regeneration framework being forged in Gateshead and Newcastle is around key arts buildings, most recently the Baltic, but with Foster's forthcoming Music Centre and the Wilkinson Eyre 'winking'bridge acting as further rebranding icons for a transformed region.

And Baltic will get further recognition on 12 October, when - we can now announce - it will stage the Stirling Prize dinner on behalf of the RIBA, backed by the AJ.

Wayne Hemingway, who is designing homes on the banks of the Tyne for Wimpey, will be one of the 'lay' judges of the prize, Foreign Office Architects'Farshid Moussavi an architect judge. The mayor of Gateshead, John Hamilton, and Lord Mayor of Newcastle, John Marshall, will be there, and can be justly proud of their achievements. But so, too, can John Major.Without the ex-PM's Lottery initiative, little of this regional, buildingsled regeneration would have been possible.

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