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.

Close

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.

Close

Pam Alexander: 'I’m often the only woman’

Last week Pam Alexander was appointed the new chair of CABE. She reveals her goals for the design watchdog and inspirations

What is your background?
I am a geographer. I spent years in the Department of Environment; I ran the Housing Corporation’s programme and I was chief executive of English Heritage. Recently I have been a client for both CABE and the Design Council when I was chief executive of the South East England Development Agency.

What is your goal as CABE chairwoman?
To complete the organisational change we have to make from being a large, grant-funded commission to a small, agile entrepreneurial campaigner for all that is good in the built environment.

What is your favourite building?
I have lots of favourite buildings, and most of them are about personal resonances and about new interventions in historical buildings. If I had to pick one, it would be David Chipperfield’s Turner Contemporary in Margate, which I was involved with right from the beginning. A second one would be Thomas Heatherwick’s pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.

How many design reviews has CABE carried out in the past 12 months?
I cannot give you that figure. We do a lot more than just design reviews, but I can say that we have a great new template that we have been discussing with a number of local authorities, and we have just signed a contract with Oxford City Council for a whole programme of design reviews.

Which practices do you admire?
One firm I particularly love is HAT Projects, which produced a beautiful new Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. And although not a new practice, someone who is newly emerging as a real leader in her field is Alison Brooks. I have worked with her personally at Bath Riverside, which is a scheme I am really proud of.

Have you ever experienced a ‘glass ceiling’?
This is a really important subject. Even now I often find that I am the only woman in a room. I do sometimes find it hard to get my voice heard; and that is strange as I am not really a ‘token’ woman.

Which architect do you most admire?
Not very original, but I think my favourite is still Richard Rogers. There would have been no CABE without his Urban Task Force, but more importantly I think the recent Royal Academy exhibition showed the breadth of his caring and understanding about the built environment – every aspect of it and how it impacts on people and society. For me that is what the built environment is about … it is about making the places where people live better.

 

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related Jobs

Sign in to see the latest jobs relevant to you!

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

AJ newsletters