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When Richard Rogers completed the Lloyd's building in 1986, he triumphantly proclaimed it as 'responsive, indeterminate architecture - a balance between permanence and transformation'. It was a direct response to the client's request for a flexible framework to accommodate its rapidly changing needs 'well into the next century' and possibly beyond.

Six years into that new century, the building's self-appointed spiritual custodians are calling for spot listing in a bid to protect the building from inappropriate change (see pages 10-11).

The needs of the client are to be subsumed by the preferences of 'those who know best'.

Lloyd's is part of a distinguished collection of buildings which collectively stand as evidence that commissioning pioneering corporate architecture makes long-term commercial sense.

Lloyd's' collaboration with Rogers was prompted by the fact that it had already borne the considerable expense of moving the centre of its dealing operations twice in 50 years.

The irony is that it may yet have to do so again.

London Zoo, another institution with a proud tradition of architectural patronage, has found its mass of listed buildings such a hindrance that it is currently investigating ways to procure 'non-architecture', specifically designed to avoid the attentions of the architectural elite. Executed with intelligence, this 'stealth' architecture has yielded rich pickings - structures such as Proctor and Matthews' lions' den at Whipsnade - which are so intangible or slight as to be barely recognisable as architecture at all. For distinguished financial institutions such as Lloyd's, 'slight' is not an option. The only means of deflecting interest is to settle for mediocre buildings which they are free to alter, extend or vacate as the vagaries of the market dictate.

And still we wonder why it is that those who are best equipped to foot the bill for pioneering architecture seem least inclined to take the risk.

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