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Blaming American Institute is mistaken

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I write regarding Paul Hyett's column, 'Americans establish themselves here. Shouldn't it work both ways?' (aj 14.10.99)

The American Institute of Architects (aia) has consistently supported reciprocity between the United States and the United Kingdom for more than 20 years, and has worked to re-establish the mutual-recognition agreement since it was abrogated by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (ncarb) 10 years ago. To blame aia for the actions of ncarb is like blaming riba for the actions of arb.

American firms in the uk practise in strict accordance with the rules governing architecture in this country. Every major firm includes uk-registered architects (most often as partners or directors), who supervise projects in this country. We have met on several occasions with the arb to ensure that we fully understand its interpretation of the legal and ethical requirements. I can assure Mr Hyett that the aia will support action against any 'cowboys' who attempt to practise architecture without complying with uk requirements.

Placing architectural services on the agenda for the World Trade Organisation creates complex, multi-national issues that go far beyond mutual recognition between the United States and the United Kingdom. For our part, we shall work diligently for a bilateral agreement between our two countries, which share a common heritage in education, practice and ethics.

In the meantime, British architects in the United States have the same option as American firms in Britain: they can invite American architects to join them as partners, and thereby comply with the practice laws in the American states.

The good news is that arb and ncarb are working toward re-establishing reciprocal lic-ensing. In an October 1998 meeting with ncarb, Barbara Kelly, chairwoman of the arb, told ncarb that arb must first consider uk issues of educational validation and examinations before advancing the dialogue. We sincerely hope that both organisations will soon be at a point where they can re-establish recognition.

Steven Steimer, aia president, London/uk chapter of the American Institute of Architects

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