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High-rise and low-rise buildings as appropriate

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letters

A recent article by Simon Jenkins wilfully misrepresents my views in order to justify tired and familiar prejudices against tall buildings ('No more towering targets for lunatics', Evening Standard, 20 September).

I do not 'want towers everywhere'. I do believe that much of London's skyline is unexceptional and would be improved, rather than impaired, by better designed buildings (both highrise and low). If Jenkins thinks London's skyline is so fantastic as it is, I would be happy to accompany him to the roof of Tate Modern, the Barbican or on the London Eye so he can show me what he so admires.

I also know that London needs to develop at higher densities in order to avoid encroaching on Britain's countryside, and to maintain both environmental sustainability and the vitality that Jenkins and I both prize in London. In some cases, after careful consideration of local social, economic and environmental impact, the best way to raise density, improve public space and create a beautiful and iconic building may be to build a tower or cluster of towers. But not always, and not everywhere.

Well-designed tall buildings, reaching up to the skies, have always been architectural symbols, reflecting the aspirations and achievements of religion and trade. The steel frame and elevator have enabled this form to develop even further.

Terrorists may look for iconic buildings (which can, as Jenkins points out, include low-rise buildings such as Harrods), and for buildings or places where people meet, such as football stadiums. I cannot believe that Jenkins, a fellow enthusiast for London, really believes that we should all live in unobtrusive buildings scattered around the countryside, but that is where his arguments seem to lead.

There are undoubtedly lessons to be learnt by all architects, engineers and construction specialists about building safety in the wake of America's tragedy.

Better design can reduce the impact of such tragic events but it cannot prevent them. The only real solution to terrorism lies in addressing its causes, not in fiddling about with the height of buildings.

Lord Rogers, Richard Rogers Partnership, London

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