Lipton, 57, is known as a passionate believer in good architecture and will be charged with promoting quality design throughout Whitehall.
A member of the Royal Fine Art Commission, Lipton’s new role will also involve vetting building projects by the private sector, as the RFAC does now.
His appointment as chairman of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment is due to be confirmed by culture secretary Chris Smith next week. The job pays £30 000 a year for a two-day week. Lipton will combine the role with his work at Stanhope.
The firm, which developed Broadgate in partnership with Godfrey Bradman’s Rosehaugh, hit trouble in the early 1990s but has been revived by a surviving core team. This includes construction supremo Peter Rogers, who has led Stanhope’s project management work on the Royal Opera House and Tate Gallery at Bankside.
Lipton, who has also been involved with these schemes, is on the opera house’s development steering committee. He was also an adviser on construction of the Sir Michael Hopkins & Partners-designed Glyndebourne opera house. In his role as champion for architecture he will be expected to develop a strong educational programme for children and the community.
He will also oversee the administration and development of the commission’s grant programmes, which it will take over from the Arts Council.
The commission will, in addition, be involved with the listing of buildings with English Heritage.
In its brief for the job of chairman, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: “The primary requirement for the chairman of the new body will be enthusiasm for, and understanding of, architecture and its contribution to its surroundings, with the ability to inspire this enthusiasm in others.
“He or she will need to have credibility and respect in the architectural world. The chairman will be an effective lobbyist for the art of architecture, but will also need a readiness to consider architecture in the wider context of urban design and the built environment.” It is understood that architects were not considered suitable for the post, and that a number of figures from the media were in the running for the job before Lipton was chosen.