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Blair zone

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astragal

The architectural great and the good were out in force at 10 Downing Street last week. The much-heralded occasion celebrated CABE's first year of operation; Tony Blair and then CABE chairman Sir Stuart Lipton both spoke briefly (and well). The PM, who had been hobnobbing with guest Ken Livingstone, said it was nice to see him at Number 10. 'Enjoy it, Ken, ' he said. 'But not too much!'

There was no talk of Victorian values, other than to admire the civic ethos which had produced such great buildings in the past.

Sir Stuart praised the prime minister for setting an example of personal commitment to good new design, and looked forward to individual champions spreading the message across government. Ministers including Nick Raynsford, Alan Howarthand Scottish MSP Rhona Brankin were among those heeding the call. I noted my Lords Foster and Rogers, and luminaries including Nicholas Grimshaw, Richard Burton, Roland Paoletti, Richard Murphy, John Allan, Ted Cullinan, Frank Duffy, Andrew Wright and Gordon Benson among the throng. Nigel Coates was best-dressed man, as usual. Women guests included Amanda Levete, Elsie Owusu, Nicky Gavron, and the AJ's Isabel Allen. Good to catch up with Nev Churcher of Hampshire County Council, John Hobson of the DETR Construction Directorate, and the urbane permanent secretary to the Treasury, Sir Andrew Turnbull, heard discussing the problems of Oxford Street with Ian Henderson of Land Securities. The reception saw the launch of the government's architectural call to arms, a pamphlet entitled Better Public Buildings . Nice to see its author, AJ publishing director Paul Finch, also enjoying the occasion.

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