I would like to clarify a few points in your article 'Hyett seeks equal treatment deal in negotiations with AIA' (AJ 17.5.01) and to respond to Hyett's letter in the same issue.
His argument centres on 'unequal' registration practices between the UK and the US. He believes this has led to a disparity in the amount of work enjoyed by American practices in the UK compared with British practices in the US.
The issue of registration has little, if any, bearing on the ability of a company to attract commissions overseas. These go mostly to established practices, either because they have an existing relationship with the client, or because they offer a service not available in the domestic market. Canary Wharf and the American merchant banks are an example of the former, while the Foster/Rogers/ Grimshaw/Chipperfield projects in the US and SOM's involvement in Broadgate in the UK are examples of the latter.
Firms make arrangements that suit the project, whether this means obtaining registration in the host country, setting up a branch office or working with a local architect. The issue of registration laws is a secondorder concern.
Hyett has incorrectly identified reciprocity as an issue between the RIBA and the AIA.
As we said in a recent letter (AJ 15.3.01), the issue of reciprocity lies with the ARB and the 50 US state licensing boards represented by the NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards).
Neither the RIBA or AIA are statutory authorities, and as such are only in a position to be facilitators in the reciprocity process.
Both the UK and the US are party to the UIA Accord on Professional Practice that identifies a path towards reciprocity based on the components of education, internship and licensure.
Were the UK able to negotiate on its own behalf, it would be relatively simple.
Unfortunately, the ARB is restricted by the Treaty of Nice that requires that the European Community to negotiate on the UK's education and internship.
The disparity in education and licensing standards across Europe is a monumental obstacle in achieving EU-US reciprocity. The cost and time of a country-by-country validation greatly exceeds the budgets and political wills of the licensing institutions on both sides of the Atlantic.
Contrary to Hyett's letter, most US practices in Britain are staffed with UK or European nationals. I believe most Americans are here for personal reasons, usually marriage. Few come for business reasons.
There is something on which the AIA and Hyett agree. Registration laws in the UK should be amended to be a protection of function, as they are in the US.
The UK system is a protection of title. Unfortunately, this requires an act of Parliament, and given other concerns (the NHS, Northern Ireland, etc), it seems unlikely that the government will change the situation.
Lester Korzilius, President, AIA/London