Reference your Aug. 25 Real Estate section article "Angry Owners Oppose Incentive Deals to Buyers":

This article involving William L. Berry & Co. vs. the Cohen and Bake families burns me up.

Because these families bought at the top of a declining market, and because they didn't get as good a price as current buyers, they feel it's perfectly OK to cause a fine builder to suffer adverse publicity and to expend time and legal expenses countering a "frivolous action."

It's one thing to ask for an after-the-purchase rebate; it's another thing (yes, extortion) to demand a rebate and threaten to stage a protest, even with "Buyer Beware" signs.

Prices vary on a day-to-day basis for any commodity, including houses. Every homeowner would like to buy at the low side of a housing cycle -- but realizes there's risk if he buys at the high side. Why should William L. Berry -- or any builder -- assume this risk for the Cohens or Bakes? He shouldn't. It's the buyer's risk, just as it's the buyer's profit -- not Berry's -- if the market gets strong.

At this point, any monetary benefit that the Cohens or Bakes might receive from the builder to "negotiate a settlement to the dispute" amounts to dishonesty and downright stealing. It's too bad that such frivolous buyer actions aren't dealt with quickly and severely by our legal system in order to prevent further abuses.

Joel J. Lutkenhouse


I am writing this letter in response to an article titled "A War of Words in Remodeling" by H. Jane Lehman that appeared in the Aug. 18 Real Estate section.

To say that an architectural student, or even an architect, spends much time mastering the science of structural design is ludicrous. Few, if any, architects do their own structural design, unless they can pull it out of some manual or unless they also happen to be a PE (professional engineer), otherwise they hire out their work to PEs. This is a fact brought on by the complexity of structural design and by insurance underwriting.

There are few architectural schools in this country with the capability of producing an architect/engineer, and these produce few graduates. The vast majority of schools look on architecture as an art form, to be expressed as an extension of the architect's conception of space and form. The result is that even one who graduates with a master's degree is unqualified to even apply for an architect's license, and must serve an apprenticeship of from three to five years in the office of a licensed architect before being allowed to apply. Even the exam is a travesty.

It is this kind of "art" that the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the various state legislatures (via AIA contributions), have foisted on everyone as being "for the health, welfare and safety of the public." It would make as much sense to license sculptors, actors, writers and painters (we could even have a non-obscenity oath). The present-day architect serves principally as a concept artist, draftsman and go-between for the client and engineer. Does this need a master's degree, a three- to five-year apprenticeship and then state sanctioning?

I would like to hear some response from the AIA, because like many, I feel their position is indefensible, and has been foisted on the public at great cost to us.

B. J. Egeli

Indian Head, Md.

We applaud your effort to cover the effects of development on architectural practice.

The general tone of your article "Building Slump Has Architects Hunting for Work" (Aug. 11) suggests, however, that it is a desperate firm that seeks a church as a client and that it does so only as a matter of last resort in preventing financial collapse.

This notion of church architecture as second rate is patently offensive, not only to those who specialize in such design, but woefully so to those who regard the church community as a center point of their lives. It is a far cry from the grand tradition of the church as the ultimate community client and, consequently, the ultimate commission.

Brian J. Frickie

Kerns Group Architects

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