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Lipton to 'spread the word' as architecture champion

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Architecture champion Stuart Lipton has vowed to get architecture 'into the bloodstream' of the public when he takes up his post as head of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

Property developer Lipton, confirmed as the department's choice on Monday this week, told the aj it was too early to consider who his commissioners were likely to be and how many of the current Royal Fine Art Commissioners were to be taken on board. 'It's going to be challenging, very worthwhile and needs considerable thought,' he said. 'But I believe that if we are to get this thing through we need to get it into the bloodstream and that everybody in building has to have a commitment. Quality, not style, has to be a prerequisite.'

Lipton, chief executive of Stanhope and a riba honorary fellow who lives in an Eric Parry-designed house in St John's Wood, aims to gather comments from across the industry from surveyors, planners and engineers as well as architects to win their 'essential' support in formulating the new body's remit. He sees education of the public as the key goal. 'We're a mystery aren't we?' he said.

Sir Norman Foster, who was worked for Lipton at Stockley Park and King's Cross, said of the three-year appointment: 'I think it's absolutely wonderful news and he'll do an incredibly good job in the role. It has to be good news for the profession.'

riba president David Rock thought Royal Gold Medal juror Lipton's appointment a 'good and interesting choice' since he will be 'very firm' and 'has his own ideas.' 'He won't be anybody's puppy dog,' said Rock. 'He is tied into the industry in a very practical way. I had hoped there would be somebody who had a view of the industry that wasn't a superficial one. He is a very down-to-earth person.'

But one industry figure criticised Lipton's 'social skills' and ability to appeal to the public, adding that his appointment may be better news for larger practices and schemes than for smaller firms - the bulk of the profession.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith said Lipton would be a 'powerful' champion and that his 'knowledge, enthusiasm and experience' would make for 'firm and imaginative leadership'.

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