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You saw his mugshot on the CABE website, so you are expecting Peter Stewart, deputy chief executive and author of CABE's recent guide Design Review, to be a tall, supercilious Whitehall clone who will probably say nothing of much significance.

Up on the 16th floor of the Tower Building, the view from the lift lobby is of Nick Grimshaw's Waterloo terminal and half the London Eye.Here the real Stewart is of average height and not at all supercilious.

He confesses that he does not like having his photo taken, so perhaps the photographer for the website was on the floor doing an up-nostrils shot when he got the lofty glare now electronically imprinted in cyberspace.

Stewart has learned to choose his words carefully, but mostly he talks comfortably and interestingly, although, disconcerting for conventional eyeball-to-eyeball interviewing procedures, he sometimes does his musing pointing 90 degrees to your picture-plane. As people have warned beforehand, he is actually a perfectly friendly, open person - with a bit of steel in there somewhere.

For the past five years, first on the Royal Fine Art Commission (RFAC) as Francis Golding's deputy, and now as John Rouse's number two, the only drawings Stewart has recently handled are the works of others.

But with the RIBA and ARB in his knapsack, he is 'one of us'.

He did his undergraduate degree at Cambridge and his diploma at the Polytechnic of Central London. Because he is happy to acknowledge the influence of Demetri Porphyrios at PCL he has been labelled a Classicist. He denies it firmly. He was at PCL before Porphyrios (and Leon Krier) started going Classicist: 'I was interested in Rationalism and wrote my dissertation on Lubetkin.'

After PCL he worked in various private practices including Gibberds and then for a decade at Michael Squires, whence he arrived at the RFAC.

At CABE he is also head of design review.

Committee members are appointed for a term of three years and the membership of each new group of advisers is carefully thought out so as to eliminate such things as questions about stylistic bias. The advice the committee gives is, Stewart avers, 'completely dispassionate'. The odd thing is that, although it has absolutely no statutory powers, most people do take its advice.

Stewart says: 'It relies [for its authority] on

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