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Pawley's high-rise ideas aren't rooted in reality

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Martin Pawley seems to have got into something of a muddle about tall buildings, blaming the lack of economic advantage that tall buildings would allegedly otherwise provide on the system of planning controls that exist in the UK (AJ 17.05.01). Even without the planning system, the economic advantage of tall buildings has not yet been proven.

Quite how his example of Chicago effectively paying $25 million for 500 Boeing employees to be relocated from Seattle relates to this is unclear - 500 people would not nearly fill a 15-storey building, let alone a 50-storey one.

Furthermore, in this global age, the real job creating work of corporations such as Boeing will not happen in the cities with the tallest buildings, but in countries where skilled labour is cheapest. Marks Barfield Architects freely admitted problems with the cost of its proposed 50storey Skyhouse tower only enforces the notion that tall buildings are not necessarily the answer to the Mayor's call for cheap office space.

The issue here is not whether to permit tall buildings, but to judge carefully whether they are really necessary.

Cities and towns change and grow with or without tall buildings, and large corporations have been coming to London and will continue to do so not because of the height, shape and overall design of the City's buildings (one only needs to look at the blandness of most of the recent buildings in the City), but because the climate for doing business in London is good. This climate is not created by architects but by the success of national economic policy and worldwide trends.

Adam Wilkinson, secretary, Save Britain's Heritage, London

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