A 'disillusioned young architect' writes that the shortlist for the Architecture Foundation's new building consists of 'architectural has-beens and fashionable hacks' (AJ Letters, 13.1.05). What we actually created was a balanced list that included both recent graduates and a Pritzker Prize winner, and on which the majority of architects were in their twenties, thirties or early forties.
The list represented a wide range of architectural approaches.
We believe that, as intended, we gave an opportunity to practices at several levels of experience. We also believe it would have been wrong to discriminate against outstanding practices on the grounds that they might have been too old or too famous. None of these practices has built a new building in London; the implication of the DYA's argument seems to be that the better-known among them never should.
If you have read the above before, it is because I wrote it in response to a nearly identical letter by the DYA to another magazine last year. Now that Zaha Hadid has won the competition (see above), the DYA will be even more unhappy.
However, I suggest that he/she asks the second and third-placed practices, A-Graft and AOC, if they feel they are the victims of an unfair prejudice against young architects. The DYA also asks how Hadid could have 'ended up in the running when the submission requirements called only for one illustrated past project and a small selection of previous projects'.
The answer to this is simple: she submitted her Maggie Centre as the one past project, which demonstrated her ability at designing small buildings, and a selection of small projects, exactly as she was required to do.
In the course of her career, Zaha Hadid has shown courage and commitment second to none, which has only recently been rewarded by substantial commissions. Her first building in London should surely be a cause for celebration.
Rowan Moore, Architecture Foundation