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Leadership should be in the hands of architects

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One of the drivers for change called for in the Egan Report was for 'committed leadership'. At a conference held on 1 March Sir John Egan remarked that this leadership could not be delegated - this could explain more clearly where he was coming from. It seems, from references to his work, that he is in a similar position in relation to baa as Lipton was to Broadgate and Paul Reichmann is to Canary Wharf. They could be described as 'architects' of their companies as a whole, and their managements are similar to those of architectural or any other professional practices. Contracting firms or any other large organisations are different - their directors have to delegate; a site agent cannot be a director.

Government is demanding change. 'Architects' in the broadest sense are better equipped to bring about change than larger, and more bureaucratic, contracting firms. Perhaps the change of immediate concern to architects is that the mod now intends to appoint main contractors first, with the architect as another member of the supply chain. The success of this arrangement can only come about if the mod creates the same type of management style as baa or Canary Wharf. Professional architects have worked very well with this type of set-up and it has a lot going for it. Management ideas often promoted by building contractors revolve around communication clusters, which strikes me as design by committee where no one is to blame if things go wrong - a typically bureaucratic model.

Ken Dixon


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