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Time to engage brain before opening mouth!


I feel compelled to write to you after reading George Ferguson's letter (AJ 16.1.03).

I appreciate that Ferguson is trying to establish a higher profile for himself generally, and therefore must have found it difficult to resist the temptations of adding a convenient soundbite to the media, following the recent partial collapse of the West Pier at Brighton.

However, while I respect his right to comment personally on issues, I consider it highly irresponsible for the president-elect of the RIBA to be publicly advocating that a Grade I-listed building should be demolished, without first establishing whether these proposals have the support of CABE, English Heritage or the vast majority of the people of Brighton (which, of course, they do), or indeed that there had already been a design competition some years ago, the results of which were considered inappropriate by English Heritage.

Surely the role of the president-elect is to support the kind of design proposals that have been painstakingly, professionally and sensitively developed with the various stakeholders (and enthusiastically supported by CABE), and which seek to retain our national heritage.

I would not question Ferguson's ability to provide an 'honest answer to a straightforward question', but would question his ability to engage his brain before he opens his mouth. Hopefully, as his presidency develops, he will give more consideration to the impact his comments might have on the work of the members of his professional institute.

David Keirle, KSS Architects, London W1

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