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Six invited to become new architecture commissioners

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Appointments to the government's new Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (cabe) were expected as aj went to press. Under the chairmanship of developer Stuart Lipton, they are thought to be: Tate Gallery director Sir Nicholas Serota; architect Ian Ritchie (like Lipton a former Royal Fine Art Commissioner); former English Heritage London Region director (and rfac commissioner) Sophie Andrae; former Birmingham architecture and planning director Les Sparks; architect Sunand Prasad of Penoyre & Prasad; and aj editor Paul Finch.

The commission's remit will take in: the design review work of the rfac; providing advice to government and public bodies on improving the quality of architecture they commission; undertaking a broad educational programme; carrying forward the ideas of Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force; and strengthening arrangements for promotion of design in the regions.

More commissioners are likely to be appointed in the autumn, divided into sub-groups with responsibility for specific aspects of the cabe programme.

The new commission will take the form of a limited company (sole shareholder culture secretary Chris Smith). It will work from the current rfac offices for the rest of this year, while new premises are sought.

Meanwhile the rfac held its final event last week. In the introduction to the annual report Lord St John welcomes the idea of cabe as a 'proactive and independent body'. But he warns that it must be truly independent, giving advice without fear or favour.

Foster and Partners' £150 million, 40-storey Swiss Re design has been welcomed (see pages 6 and 7). Piers Gough said: 'This is lively, elegant and radical. It is not very deep plan, which is cleverly engineered by taking twisting atria up the building. I don't agree with the description organic, which implies funkyism. Maybe it's 'Foster organic' ... this is a good idea and a very beautiful one-off building.' Sir Philip Powell said looks were irrelevant: 'But I am worried because it is so tall and huge. It is a pity one of his great works may be going in the wrong place. ... But if anyone can succeed there, Foster is a good candidate.' John Seifert said the 'free-standing silkworm cocoon around the building was tremendously exciting.' English Heritage said: 'The new building will be a justifiable replacement for the bomb-damaged Baltic Exchange.'

Lord Foster has chosen the nomenclature Lord Foster of Thames Bank - his former colleague Richard Rogers chose 'Riverside'.

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