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'Unfair' Will Alsop does me an injustice

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Letters

In a recent interview (AJ 13.6.02) Royal Academy Hanging Committee member Will Alsop disgracefully soiled the reputation of this well-respected British Institution.

Asked why he selected my Docklands Town Hall painting - which I claimed was plagiarised by Rem Koolhaas as the Rotterdam Kunsthal design in a recent high-profile trial - Alsop made the astonishing comment that, despite its obvious merit, he would have rejected my work if he had known its history.

So much for fairness and impartiality - but for Alsop this was not enough. Clearly annoyed by an accidentally unbiased selection based only on merit, he tried to backtrack by belittling the work and slandering me. Alsop called me a rip-off and said the resemblance between the two architectural works was due to me owing a debt to OMA and copying OMA's style.Alsop should check his facts before uttering such nonsense. I designed Docklands Town Hall in 1985-86, whereas the Kunsthal was not designed until December 1988. The only project in my portfolio bearing any resemblance to the Kunsthal design or any style resemblance to Koolhaas's work is my design for a Docklands Town Hall.

With an important detail: the distinctive tectonic signature of my Docklands design is entirely absent from all of Koolhaas's work before 1986.

After the Kunsthal design was published, leading Dutch architectural critic Hans van Dyke spotted a style change in Koolhaas' work and pointed this out in a critical article entitled 'Principles of Metropolitan Architecture - OMA's Kunsthal in Rotterdam'. He referred to it as a 'shift' in OMA's work.He did not know about my previous work nor seen the plans, as Koolhaas had.

In his unseemly rush to avoid displeasing Koolhaas himself, Alsop is more papist than the pope: during the trial Koolhaas himself acknowledged my work as entirely my own, and did so in a sworn affidavit!

I lost my case when an architecturally naive judge dismissed the opinions of two of the UK's leading architect expert witnesses - architect experts Frederick Hill and Michael Wilkey. Both had concluded independently that the Docklands plans had been plagiarised by Rem Koolhaas as the Rotterdam Kunsthal.

To date, unbiased architects now scrutinising plans agree on the similarities and the conclusion of the experts that my design was stolen. This dispute is not settled yet, and the way in which the ARB Disciplinary committee will act on the judge's order that Michael Wilkey be 'disciplined' for his alleged failure in his duty to the court will have wide-reaching implications on the protection of intellectual property in architecture and the ability of the architectural profession to govern itself.

In the meantime, I demand formally that Will Alsop retract his malicious and libellous lies. A public apology would do nicely!

Gareth Pearce, London W2

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