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American or not, our architects sit Part III

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In his column 'Americans establish themselves here. Shouldn't it work both ways?' (aj 14.10.99) Paul Hyett paints the picture that Americans qualified in the usa and working in the uk are breaching British laws on architects' registration.

By highlighting som in the introductory paragraphs, he also implies that som is encouraging this practice. This is not the case.

som has been practising in the uk for more than 13 years. As its current managing director, I am also a uk-registered architect and a member of the ribA. I've been involved in key projects undertaken by SOM including Broadgate, Ludgate, Stockley Park, Garrard House and 11-13 Holborn Viaduct. For the record, som has always had company directors who are registered architects in the uk.

The debate between the uk and the usa regarding reciprocity has been continuing for the last 15 years. In 1987, the then-named arcuk stopped reciprocity due to a breakdown in dialogue between the respective professional bodies in the uk and usa. us architects qualifying by means of producing documentary evidence of their successful studies and undertaking an oral examination on uk professional practice became a thing of the past. Following that breakdown, all of som's American employees - including partners with experience in the realisation of some of the world's tallest buildings - who wished to call themselves architect in the uk were required to sit the Part III examinations in the same way as uk students directly out of university.

The movement of businesses between the two countries has never been higher and the need for professionals who can understand and respond to the common market is very high indeed.

som fully supports the author's intention in broadening the basis for reciprocity between the uk and the usa, but accepts that proactive measures must be agreed to ensure that the title 'architect' is protected and not demeaned by the 'small-scale cowboy outfits' referred to by Mr Hyett.

Roger Whiteman, managing director, Skidmore Owings & Merrill

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