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Alsop slams appointment of 'manager' as London's design director

Will Alsop, one of the favourites to become the director of Ken Livingstone's new Design for London unit, has hit out at the decision to appoint a 'manager' to the position.

The mayor's office yesterday afternoon announced that Peter Bishop ( below), a senior mandarin at Camden Council, has picked up the much sought-after job.

Speaking after the revelation, Alsop, who was considered one of the frontrunners for the position, claimed it was a mistake not to have appointed a proven designer to the role.

Design for London will, according to a Greater London Authority statement, 'operate as the focus for design leadership for London government, bringing together existing teams from the Greater London Authority, the London Development Agency and Transport for London'.

But Alsop said they have appointed the wrong man to head up this new organisation. 'I think he's clearly a jolly good chap,' he said, 'but I think that to be design director for London, you should be a designer.

'And what they have here is a manager.'

Alsop also claimed that the appointment was to ensure that there would be no problems working with the Mayor's chief architectural advisor Richard Rogers.

'And I'm sure he'll be very good at his job. They've always been after a manager so there's no difference and no conflict with the chairman Rogers.

'A great opportunity to introduce imagination into that role has been lost. It needs more than a manager, but that's what they're stuck with.

'There should be a generational shift of those making decisions,' the Stirling Prize-winner added.

Commenting after the event, Bishop said the position was fantastic. 'This is a really exciting role,' he said yesterday afternoon. 'It is a real opportunity to implement the Mayor's vision for London and help shape the city over the next few years.

'Design for London will work across the Greater London Authority group to help make London a better place to live.

'It is not just about grand designs. It is about making the city a better place for Londoners to live, work and move around in. It is about mending the parts of the city that don't work, and making the places that do work even better.'

by Ed Dorrelland Richard Vaughan

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