Eden Project architect to lead Royal Academy

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The Independent Online

Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, the architect who designed the Eden Project in Cornwall and the Eurostar terminal at Waterloo, was yesterday appointed the 25th president of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, the architect who designed the Eden Project in Cornwall and the Eurostar terminal at Waterloo, was yesterday appointed the 25th president of the Royal Academy of Arts.

It is hoped his appointment will end a series of high-profile resignations, financial problems and personality clashes that have rocked the institution in recent months.

Sir Nicholas, 65, who was elected a Royal Academician in 1994, had been the favourite of four candidates for the post. He said he was delighted by the appointment and spoke positively about the "challenges" that lay ahead.

"I am grateful for the vote of support that my colleagues have given me. The Royal Academy (RA) is one of the world's leading arts organisations and is unique because it is run by artists. I am looking forward to meeting the challenges of taking the Royal Academy into the future and building on its past successes," he said yesterday.

While the Academy has built its reputation as a cutting-edge gallery, showcasing many prominent artists over the past 200 years, recent headlines have focused more on the institution's managerial disputes. Six weeks ago, the former president and sculptor, Professor Philip King, resigned on grounds of ill health, although there had been speculation on growing tensions over his five-year leadership.

His departure was swiftly followed by Lawton Fitt, the Academy secretary who quit last week amid reports of a clash of managerial style. A former vice-president of Goldman Sachs and the first female to have been appointed RA secretary, Ms Fitt is believed to have been at loggerheads with Norman Rosenthal, the RA's exhibitions director.

As an American, she was known for her "robust" corporate style which may not have been to everyone's tastes. Professor King was blamed by some for failing to defuse the row between Ms Fitt and Mr Rosenthal, and was accused of resisting calls to modernise the institution's management structure.

Shortly before Professor King's departure, Brendan Neiland, keeper of the RA Schools, also quit his job, after it was discovered that he had set up an unauthorised bank account.

A review of the RA's governance was announced following the events this month. It is to be chaired by Sir David Rowland, the former NatWest chairman.

Allen Jones, the pop-art sculptor, and the painters, Paul Huxley and Anthony Green, had also put themselves forward as candidates for the presidency two weeks ago. The other front-runner was believed to be Mr Jones.

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