Letter: Most architects just want to make you happy

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The Independent Online
I was concerned by Jeff Howell's account of architects ("Doctor on the House", Travel and Money, 10 August). Very few architects neglect their clients' wishes and requirements in the vain search for monumentality. The architect's role is to facilitate choice - to propose solutions to specific design problems. The decision on whether a particular design solution is to proceed should always lie with the client.

As for the claim that some architects "want to build monuments to themselves rather than work sympathetically with existing building", should we restrict ourselves and our clients to the production of fifth-rate pastiche in order to pander to a cultural deficiency that extols an ignorant nostalgia at the expense of confidence in our own age and the future? I think not. Conservation is one issue: the slavish reproduction of an iconography of a bygone age, regardless of quality, is another matter entirely.

I would be grateful if Mr Howell would point me (and my colleagues) in the direction of the "hefty fees" he mentions. A recent survey on salaries puts architects at the bottom of construction professionals, earning, on average pounds 26,000pa - hardly a "hefty" salary after a minimum of seven years' training.

I estimate my hourly rate this year to be in the vicinity of 50p. I have given up too many evenings and weekends not just to make ends meet but to provide a service which fulfils my clients' expectations and perhaps has some positive impact on their home or place of work.

Maggie Mullan