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American architects aren't being totally straight with us

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I unwittingly but seriously upset some Americans with my article about the lack ofreciprocity in the trading arrangements between our countries ( AJ 14.10.99).

Carefully crafted letters which had 'done the rounds'in terms ofsanction to their content duly appeared in this journal, although they revealed little but indignation.

The fact remains that architects trained in America are barred under UK law from using title in this country unless they are registered with the ARB ,but many do.

The issue is compliance with UK law.Why should poor Ron Baden-Hellard be dragged from partial retirement for prosecution for using the letters RIBA without being registered with the ARB when many Americans,who are also not registered here, use the title AIA (American Institute ofArchitects) without fear ofredress?

In an earlier article ( AJ 26.2.98),I explained that King's Counsel John Morris had determined back in 1940 that the letters FRIBA / ARIBA / LRIBA 'have no significance or meaning whatsoever,save as denoting the words for which they stand.'Morris concluded that those who use such letters after their name are 'practising or carrying on business as an architect'.The ARB relied on this judgment in its successful action against Baden Hellard.

We may not like it,but our duty is to comply with the law which denies use ofthe title RIBA to those not registered as architects in the UK .As such,it also denies the use ofthe title AIA when working in the UK to those who are not also registered here.Such restrictions to free trade should, ofcourse ,in this modern world,be swept aside,but until the Americans relax their laws which inhibit British firms from operating there,we should apply our Registration Act rigidly.

ofcourse SOM is meticulous in its compliance with UK law - its RIBA practice entry lists only those American architects who are registered with ARB .I presume that its notepaper also excludes AIA members who are not registered here.

SOM please advise!But what ofHOK ,Kohn Pedersen Fox, Gensler,Swanke Hayden Connell,Koetter Kim and the many other American firms operating over here?

Well,Messrs Malcic,Baillargeon and Reinke,all directors ofHOK ,are not ' UK registered'- nor are Mr Pedersen,principal in Kohn Pedersen Fox,or his partners,Louie, Lethenthal,Clement or Cioppa.Neither are Messrs Pietrak ofGensler,Carlon ofSwanke's or Ms S Kim ofKoetter Kim.And the list could go on...

So,Mr Steimer,as President ofthe London Chapter ofthe AIA ,I suggest that you should deal with the above people in technical breach ofour registration legislation under your code ofdiscipline:your people should conduct themselves properly when in host countries.

What you say in your letter ( AJ 21.10.99) is thoroughly misleading.Many American firms do not,as you claim,'practise in strict accordance with the rules governing architecture in this country'.(By the way,I see that you are not registered with the ARB either!) The message to the ARB is this:I have given you a good start with these names you should now at long last investigate the extent ofthese malpractices properly and, without further procrastination,prosecute those who break the regulations that you are meant to enforce.Americans must not hold themselves out,solely on the basis ofthe title AIA ,as 'architects'in this country.You know that - you deemed it right to prosecute pensioner Baden Hellard for a similar offence.

In the meantime,the Americans should work to achieve a level playing field for eciprocity oftrade.That will necessitate legislative changes in both countries.

Until then,however,Americans in this country must behave themselves.

By the way,I enquired ofthe AIA London Chapter how many oftheir members practise here and what is the commercial value oftheir work in the UK and Europe.They were unwilling to give this information... too busy, I suppose!

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