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Monday28 July 2014

Wrong choice

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I much admire Ellis Woodman’s writing but he is wrong (Leader September 11) regarding my frustration over the Glasgow School of Art competition

Steven Holl is a damn fine architect. I hope he produces a great work. On the basis, though, of the work submitted for the competition, I don’t think it met the challenge of building alongside one of the world’s great buildings, Mackintosh’s School of Art.

There were better proposals, in my view one of which was greatly superior as far as understanding the issues were concerned. It was also sensitive to the location and the Mac building and highly innovative and beautifully presented. The architects just happened to be “local” and Scottish. That’s why they should have won.

If the commission was awarded more on the basis of past projects, then few architects — and no Scottish architect — could compete with Holl and his Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. But then what was the point of a competition, why not just give Holl the job?

In my view, Glasgow School of Art had an opportunity to buck the current trend of awarding big high-profile projects in Scotland to architects outside Scotland and did not take it. As a major Scottish cultural institution that is wrong, again in my view. It should be supporting Scottish architects and artists.

This is not parochialism and I am mildly frustrated, but again not surprised, that it it has been presented as such.

My attitude might be slightly soured, I admit, by the fact that none of the big names in architecture who have built in Scotland or who have work on the go look like producing world-class projects —sad but true.

There are currently some exceptional architects in Scotland — you have mentioned a couple. One could have been given a chance for a lifetime project. Its work merited it and you wouldn’t need the competition organisers having to confirm that Holl intended to spend time in Glasgow.

Alan Dunlop, Glasgow

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