Letter: A city built without design

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The Independent Online
A city built without design

Sir: Reading Jack O'Sullivan ("The bean-counter's contract", 10 July) on the subject of design-and-build, one might assume there had been a consistent approach to architectural procurement at Cambridge University that is now threatened.

Not true. The process in the past two decades has been haphazard and amateur. "Grandees of British architecture" have striven successfully in terms of the brief, but too often with indulgence in cost terms. Design- and-builders have also received commissions - under-spending perhaps but also under-designing.

The academic community is unable to get its architecture procurement act together and has yet to recognise the urban design field - the result in part of the jealously guarded independent roles of college, department and University. Such separation is a recipe for fiscal extravagance and uneven quality.

If Cambridge is unable to rework its structure to obtain an informed, professional overview, extravagances, irrelevancies and discord will continue.