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Rolfe Judd slams CABE for 'steamrollering' design review

Rolfe Judd Architects has hit back at the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) after it criticised the practice's regeneration scheme for four blocks east of King's Cross station in London (AJ 15.6.00).

CABE's design review panel attacked the £80 million scheme for displaying poor architectural design and a lack of 'clarity' in its urban design, but voiced confidence in the architects and supported the regeneration aims of the scheme. Rolfe Judd managing director Geoff Adam said the practice was 'steamrollered' - not given enough time to present its scheme in the review meeting - and that a number of CABE's criticisms were unfounded. Adam said one hour had been allocated to the review but it only lasted for 30 minutes.

CABE's report stated that a 'lack of clarity in the presentation material is evidence of a lack of clarity in thinking about the project'. CABE also demanded a fresh masterplan for the project but Adam rejected this.'In the repor t it comes over that the mater ia l wasn't well presented but someone knocked over our boards, ' he countered.

Adam said that the design-review committee failed to examine the architecture of the proposals in detail but instead focused on building conservation. 'We expected them to talk about the architecture, but really this didn't feature much. Instead they talked about regeneration and conservation.' The project includes a new 300-bed hotel and a 10,000m 2office building, but respects the area's existing street layout.

'The Royal Fine Art Commission [CABE's predecessor] used to be far more pro modern interventions and often was diametrically opposed to the viewpoint of English Heritage, ' Adam said. 'The way CABE is at the moment, it seems to be more in tune with English Heritage.' CABE declined to comment on the meeting.

Meanwhile English Heritage, which objects to the loss of warehouse buildings on the conservation area site, has appointed urban design specialist Urban Initiatives to come up with an alternative.

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