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Lord Foster is 'only human' after all

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I suppose for the lesser mortals among us, there must inevitably be a little schadenfreude about Lord Foster's difficulties with his bridge. Perhaps, too, there should also be a sense of humility and feeling that 'there, but for the grace of God, go I.' After all, I believe that the designer of the Tacoma Narrows bridge had to be restrained from committing suicide.

It is surely an incontrovertible fact of professional life that architects will make mistakes. I know I make enough myself, and I look back at each of my own jobs knowing that something or other could have been done differently or better. I once admitted as much to my RIBAexternal examiner: he failed me and said I lacked conviction about decisions!

Nevertheless, I make sure my PIIis up to date. It was with some astonishment, therefore, that I listened to Terry Farrell on Radio 4's Front Row the other evening telling his interviewer that his memorable mistake was getting the red 'wrong' on one of his buildings. His client, fortunately, liked it.

I mention this only in a comradely spirit of frustrated professional envy and jealousy!

Where on earth do the 'big boys' get those enlightened and forgiving clients who permit their architects a free hand to innovate and experiment and win all the accolades! Wasn't it Denys Lasdun who said 'give the client not what he wanted, but what he thought he could never have!'

Joe Hayward Stanmore, Middlesex

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