13 DECEMBER 1963, Page 16

NO COMPETITION SIR,—Your remarks on the undesirability of throwing the

design of the new Foreign Office open to compe- tition are not borne out by recent experience else- where.

President de Valera has just cut the first sod for the new Library Extension at Trinity College, Dublin. The design for this building was chosen after a most successful competition. Anyone who knows the site can tell you that the architect had to work to the most exacting requirements of interior space and accom- modation, and exterior harmony with the new building's site, and with the superb eighteenth- century edifice to which it is to be neighbour. Why architects should be so pleased that they are not to have a similar opportunity in the case of the new Foreign Office is not very clear. Nor is it clear whence you derive the notion that open competition implies 'only the barest prescriptions' about site and function. On the contrary, if competition is to be successful the patron must know what he wants and prescribe it. Presumably the Foreign Office and the Minister of Public Works and Buildings can do this. If so, why should they needlessly circumscribe the possibilities open to them? Post-war government building on the other side of Whitehall does not inspire confidence in the likely outcome of the 'dialogue' which you recommend between the Minister and some established, safe architect of his own choice.

Passing, by a natural transition, to Santa Claus, you omit to point out the close relationship between him and the late King George VI's Oaks and St. Leger winner Sun Chariot. Her dam, Clarence, is the great-grand-dam of Santa Claui, whose grand- dam, her daughter, was sold for twenty guineas. This is from memory, but now the Spectator's bookshelves doubtless contain the General Stud Book and Ruff's Guide verification should present no difficulty.