The Scottish Office has picked a shortlist of 12 teams to design the new Scottish Parliament building, but has been accused of snubbing Scottish architectural talent.
A jury including Scottish secretary Donald Dewar, former Mackintosh school professor Andy Macmillan, TV personality Kirsty Wark and RIAI past president Joan O'Connor last week chose 12 firms from more than 70 who will be competitively interviewed in May. Three or four will be asked to draw up schemes for the historic Edinburgh site at Holyrood.
But although the RIAS said it was 'delighted' that so many Scottish practices have been included, only one - Benson and Forsyth - which has just one architect working in Edinburgh, is there in its own right. A further four are in teams with larger practices from Australia, America and Germany.
'Our enthusiasm that so many Scots are still involved is tempered by the lack of distinct bona fide Scottish teams that haven't got there, ' said RIAS secretary Sebastian Tombs. 'The method of selection on track record was always going to stack the cards against the Scots.'
Charles McKean, professor of Scottish Architectural History at Dundee University, slammed the system for not allowing young Scottish practices to design such an important symbol. He said, 'The whole thing makes me squirm. The secretary of state has been very badly advised, and this has excluded the sorts of people for whom this should have been the project of a lifetime. That advice should be subject to public scrutiny - this is an administrators' decision.'
McKean feels the list is a kick in the teeth for the reputation of Scottish practices: 'What a message! It's: 'The only way we believe you can design a parliament building is by getting a big brother in from the US.' That's scandalous.'