Prime minister to use event to raise status of designers and launch drive for better public architecture.
Prime minister Tony Blair has invited leading figures in British architecture and construction to No 10 for the most prestigious gathering of its kind ever organised.

Blair will use the event, which takes place next Wednesday, to launch his personal drive to improve the design quality of government-commissioned buildings – an initiative he first spoke of at the Building Awards in April.

It is understood that Blair will unveil a prime ministerial report on design excellence in public buildings at the reception.

About 200 people from the construction industry have been invited to the reception. Lords Rogers and Foster, Sir Michael Hopkins and Nicholas Grimshaw are understood to be on the guest list, along with representatives of trade bodies such as RIBA president Marco Goldschmied.

One source compared it to the high-profile receptions organised for the music and arts sectors early in the Blair administration. “It’s about acknowledging the role of the sector in our life – in terms of GDP, and the fabric of the nation,” he said.

Blair is expected to make a speech committing Whitehall to procuring higher quality buildings. Sir Stuart Lipton, chairman of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, is also expected to speak.

“This reception and this report is very important in terms of changing the culture within government,” said CABE’s government programme manager, Stephen King. “It’s very important for CABE because we can wave the report and say, look, this is what the PM says.”

It is understood that the report will call for more emphasis on whole-life costings, sustainability and greater flexibility in cost criteria to allow increased investment in design innovation and quality.

Departments will be encouraged to appoint their own internal design champions.