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SIR: I was surprised to find that I subscribe to a magazine that covers not only the world of Architecture but is also used as a platform for architects to express their political views. The letter View from Ramallah (AR May) by Tom Kay, which is actually a four-page article, has got absolutely nothing to do with Architecture or Urbanism.

If the editor truly believes that photos of broken windows teach us anything about architecture and that 'The birds have been ignoring the noise ... is a sentence describing a spatial condition he should at least be professional enough to show photos of carnage in Tel Aviv and record the birds reaction to the sound of a bomb detonating in a Jerusalem Pizzeria.

The fact that Mr Kay is a Jew is your only excuse and justification to publish such a letter. Would you publish it if a Muslim wrote it? Unfortunately, like in other English media Groups (BBC and The Guardian newspaper for example) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not reported in a professional objective manner but with a clear Pro-Palestinian point of view that tends to strip such complex issues down to 'the good guys' and 'the bad guys'.

If Tom Kay (the 'Jewish Architect') went all the way to Ramallah, he should have made the effort to examine Palestinian Architecture, which is interesting indeed. Unfortunately he was too busy being the conscience of the world. Lately we hear how millions of dollars of aid from the US and European countries are being used to finance terror attacks, weapons and explosives. The day when Palestinian leaders will invest this money in new buildings (housing, hospitals or maybe even a new architecture school) will be a day to celebrate and certainly a good subject for an article.

If you do want to write about contemporary Palestinian architecture, why not show how corrupt Palestinian leaders live in grand, luxurious villas, while their own people in the West Bank live in inhuman conditions?

As for Tom and Adah Kay; if you happen to pass through or visit Israel please beware; suicide bombers blow themselves up in coffee shops, clubs, in wedding ceremonies, in schools and kindergartens. From what I have heard they don't ask insightful people, with such high morals like you, to leave the place before they pull the trigger in the name of Allah.

Yours etc


London, England


SIR: I do not remember you ever publishing articles about the behaviour of the British army in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

There too, innocent people were killed, buildings were destroyed and vandalized, curfews imposed, and the whole apparatus of state force was unleashed to try to achieve peace. I am sure that, rightly, you did not consider it the role of an architectural magazine to comment on such matters.

So it seems very strange and biased that, whatever your personal beliefs, you should have published the 'View from Ramallah' in the May issue. Leave such matters to the newspapers -- who in any case produce the facts much faster than you can in a monthly.

Yours etc


New York, USA


SIR: The Review dropped onto the doormat during breakfast this morning. I took it with me to London and read Tom Kay's piece on the train coming back.

It's a profoundly depressing but extraordinary account. It may appear slightly strange to read such matters in the AR but, as far as this reader is concerned, it's entirely appropriate: an architect's account of the seemingly wanton destruction of a people's habitat. Kay's prose may be calm -- but, my God, it's telling.

Yours etc


Emeritus Professor of Architecture, Cambridge University, England


SIR: Anthony Hunt expresses both admiration and disrespect for Peter Rice when he describes Rice as 'the greatest British engineer of the twentieth century'. Next AR will be telling us that Eileen Gray, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw were really English. Poppycock. Rice was the greatest Irish engineer of the twentieth century. Rice was born in Ireland where he received his education before going on to study engineering at the excellent Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The rest you know. He worked for Ove Arup in London, collaborating on projects with a host of nationalities in almost every continent in the world. This does not make him Norwegian, Polish, Indonesian nor any other nationality that comes to mind. It is a tribute to the cultural confidence of the French that Joyce, Beckett, Stravinsky and Picasso could all work in Paris without having their identities hijacked by France. Sadly, the insecure British have made a habit of plundering the achievements of others as their own.

Is mise le meas


BBS Architects, New York, USA
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Publication:The Architectural Review
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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