Letter: South Bank needs debate, not prejudice

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PETER Popham, in "A duel of lady versus knight" (21 January), tries to discredit the views of an active and highly respected woman in the field of architecture who dares to criticise Sir Richard Rogers's proposals for the South Bank by painting her that bane of British men, a "bluestocking", a bookish Mary Poppins.

That she is responsible for the Sir John Soane Museum and the new exhibition room designed by Eva Jiricna as well as being president of the Twentieth Century Society proves how broad her range is, far from the dusty depths Mr Popham suggests. A passionate defence of the South Bank is crucial to a thorough debate on the future of these important contemporary buildings in the capital and should not to be dismissed as the quirky opinions of a few preservationists.

If Sir Richard had been available, would his comments have been preceded by details of his trousers, hairstyle and boyish grin?

Maria A Hellman

London W3

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