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Lord Rogers angry at 'pop' vision of Millennium Dome

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Lord Rogers last week delivered a surprise attack on the Millennium Dome and singled out its lack of a coherent 'vision' while denying all responsibility for the 'odium' which currently surrounds it.

Rogers, whose practice designed the tent itself, also hit out at the government for overlooking the opportunity to use a talented British designer to mastermind the Dome's zones.

'There was no-one with a clear vision, ' he said. 'We have amazingly capable people in Britain and in Europe. I said we needed a ringleader with a vision . . . it should have had a vision of looking towards the future.'

He added that the Dome should have had the same creative vision as the Tate Modern rather than aiming just to appeal to 'pop' culture.

'You can't just say I want to make the most popular place. That isn't a vision. It could have made a great sports centre, for instance, ' he said.

As criticism mounted over the £538 million in public money which has been poured into the project, Rogers attempted to distance himself from the bad publicity surrounding the finances of the Greenwich visitor attraction.

During an interview on BBC Radio Four's Today programme, he said: 'I don't feel responsible for the odium in which the Dome is held. We were not involved in the contents and I made it clear it's not the way I'd have gone about it.'

He also pointed out that, as architect, he could not be held responsible for the Dome's spiralling cost and he said that only £50 million of the total spending on the Dome, which is now approaching £800 million, was spent on the construction of the Dome itself.

The attack on the vision behind the Millennium Dome comes despite the fact that Rogers has close links with New Labour and was appointed as a life peer by Tony Blair in 1996.

Meanwhile, David Quarmby, chairman of the British Tourist Authority, has taken over from Bob Ayling as chairman of the New Millennium Experience Company after Ayling was asked to resign in exchange for the latest £29 million government hand out. Quarmby's appointment came ahead of fears that it could cost up to £200 million to close the Dome early, as its opponents proposed. The figures, produced by NMEC, are based on redundancy payments and compensation to sponsors.

Visitor numbers at the Dome are now expected to total between six and seven million, down from 12 million forecast earlier this year. This would still make it the largest visitor attraction in the UK this year.

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