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An even more potent cocktail at Sheffield

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Part-time students on Sheffield's Design Brief Management MA course which Paul Hyett describes (AJ 27.5.99) do not only have the privilege of interacting with the visiting lecturers who are at the leading edge of international practice and research.

There are also others in mid-career from both the demand and supply side of industry who, by attending individual seminars in Sheffield and London, make the course content an even more potent cocktail through the addition of their live experiences and reflective insights.

Some of those, who have 'tasted' by coming to seminars on special topics, like me, develop an irresistible appetite for the full course. Having attended the earliest seminars at York, and more recently at Sheffield, I have become increasingly convinced that the competent management of design briefing is the key element in achieving a building which performs successfully in the long term.

The current focus on a fast track, low cost process of construction of a building primarily as a 'product', assembled from components, can force a too hasty gallop through a formulaic briefing process which should be more than a checklist programme of accomodation, and a schedule and performance specification of parts.

Most buildings will be around for many years and affect countless people for generations as well as collectively costing millions of pounds; we should, therefore, be absolutely sure at the outset that the 'whole will be greater than the sum of its parts'.

More and better-focused briefing time must prove to be a good all-round investment. We all need to 'look before we leap'. The DBM course promises to prepare us to do this more effectively.

Incidentally, during your editing, a 'formerly' must have slipped away; I left Brock Carmichael Associates more than five years ago and John Moores University more than 10! I have recently formed my own consultancy.

Sue Carmichael

Constructive Futures

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