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Crit criticism

I think Kieran Long may need to qualify his definition of ‘best’ when he says ‘Foreign schools are monopolising the best of British architectural teaching talent’ (Leader, AJ 31.01.08). Does he really mean the most commercially astute? Indeed, Long hints at the true motivation of many architects who tutor at Yale with his comment about Michael Hopkins. The quid pro quo seems to be a theme – be it in commission remuneration or status elevation.
Clearly it is extremely difficult for architecture students to accurately assess the quality of teaching at schools around the world. End-of-year shows give some indication, but frequently these can be a firework display of eye-catching graphics. Which brings me to your piece in the same issue on the Yale crits. I was half-expecting, among all the annotated photos, to see a label for God himself, given the gushing write-up of Yale’s system.
Yale is an extremely exclusive institution, and some may question whether chauffeurdriven airport collections and cosy love-ins between professors and wealthy parents of students is really the ideal template for fostering holistic design.
Being taught by Frank Gehry? Well, I’ve seen the buildings, watched the film, and can safely say I’d take the insight of Richard Weston any day of the week in my ‘deprived’ school in the Welsh capital. Gehry wouldn’t tutor here anyway – we don’t have an icehockey team he could play for during his visit.

Ralph Kent, Cardiff

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