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CABE's comments bias against Liverpool design

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We have read the article regarding the comments issued by Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment on our design proposals for Chavasse Park in Liverpool (AJ 2.11.00).We would like to respond to those statements as we believe them to be misleading and think that they may have given the wrong impression.

Firstly, the project is not 'a hermetically self-contained world'. On the contrary, the canopy roof is stretched over the complex and is open at many strategic points to allow light and air to penetrate into the spaces below.The canopy roof is central to our approach to sustainability, as well as creating a strong visual identity for the development.

Indeed, the canopy is an integral part of the design and is essential to the composition both horizontally and vertically. It is unthinkable that it could be removed through 'lack of funds, ' for without it the project would not be feasible. Our estimates show that the cost of mechanical plant and equipment to artificially control the environment would far exceed the cost of the canopy.

The location plan (see above) shows our proposal sub-divided by the various routes, which we have incorporated to reflect the strong north-south/east-west connections typical of other urban blocks in this part of Liverpool.The feeling of procession from the hub of the city on to Paradise Street, moving through the various activities and features in the building, across the Strand, and eventually arriving at the waterfront and the Albert Dock was very much in mind during the development of our design.We were told that this has always been a long-held ambition of Liverpool city council to achieve this important link between the city centre and the waterfront.

While CABE's comments may deserve a fuller response than we can give here, it seems only fair to report that the proposals have received considerable support from other quarters, including English Heritage and the Mersey Civic Society.

Our designs were presented at a public meeting of more than 250 people in Liverpool only last week and comments from the floor, with only some minor exceptions, were extremely enthusiastic and supportive.Similar enthusiasm was expressed by the vast majority of citizens who attended a public exhibition of the proposal held in Liverpool city centre.

We welcome CABE's comments as we welcome input from all interested parties, but your piece displayed a negative bias which is not reflected in the comments of other design oriented professionals or sections of the wider community.

Philip Johnson, Alan Ritchie, New York

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