IF THE JURIES HAD BEEN DIFFERENT, THEN SO WOULD SOME OF THE CHOICES
On this issue's letters page (see page 22), John Lyall takes the AJ to task in part for not editing out Alan Dunlop's negative criticism of Penoyre & Prasad's Moorfields Eye Hospital (see the Building Study, AJ 26.04.07). Since it is not Lyall's building, he cannot be accused of sour grapes.
Instead, he seems to feel that it is unfair for the architects of a building that he admires to suffer negative comments from their peers which will, in turn, be read by their peers.
Although we only present buildings of interest and merit, that does not mean that they are beyond reproach. Of course we edit our authors' writing - a awless piece of prose is even more rare than a awless building. But we relish allowing our reviewers to express their opinions - and we relish even more having other people disagree with them.
After all, one of Lyall's companions on the Letters page is Patrick Hodgkinson, who scores a double by taking issue with both the author and the reviewer of a book about his Brunswick Centre, even though they were both largely positive about it. While we all believe that we can tell the difference between good and bad design, there are certainly no absolutes.
Last night (16 May) the winners of the RIBA Awards were revealed. Juries in each region picked a total of 63 buildings that they believed to be worthy of recognition. They did this after a series of visits and, doubtless, heated discussions.
Nobody disputes that if different people had been on the juries, at least some of those choices would have been different. Neither can we believe that they are all buildings devoid of aws.
The best of these buildings will go forward to be considered for the Stirling Prize - when another set of judges is likely to have a robust and unpredictable debate. In an age where effort is made to render almost everything countable and measurable, the variability of human opinion is to be relished, not resented.