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Email rules go beyond the letter of the law

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Paul Hyett (aj 17.6.99) seems to have mislaid his customary perspicacity in his blanket defence of Alex Reid's mandatory email proposal for inclusion in the riba register of practices. A jumble of unrelated arguments is being presented here as a coherent case on an issue that is in itself of only marginal importance, and only vaguely related to the technology itself, but which does carry rather a lot of symbolic baggage.

If the riba really cannot afford to send the occasional letter to its members then that is a separate matter. What is of rather more concern is the director general's apparent assumption that whether a firm does or does not have email is of any particular relevance to the role of the register of practices in assisting would-be clients in selecting a firm of architects who are on their wavelength. The initial exploratory approach to the architect is rarely going to be via email (if it is it only delays the inevitable telephone call at which both parties start to size each other up across the ether).

Given that the competence of a practice to provide a building that meets a specific brief is, on most projects, unrelated to its possession of a modem, the proposal is bizarre.

One's instinct is that Marco Goldschmied, as a partner in one of the key practices that have borne the tag of Hi-Tech, might have sided with the director general's proposal. Rather he has demonstrated commendable common sense.

Jeff Kahane


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