open letter to city of graz
this text was originally written in response to the exclusion of the competition entry to neubau volksschule mariagrün.
dear stadtbaudirektion graz,
thank you for your prompt reply to our message sent to your attention on march 17, 2011. we herewith acknowledge your opinion as described in your report.
the circumstances surrounding the disqualification of our submission to the architectural competition neubau volksschule mariagrün are unsatisfactory to our office. our office has entered several competitions in the past – many of these international – where language and local protocol might have presented obstacles to submission, review and award. in the past we have been impressed by the professionalism and respect accorded, anonymously, to our office and project team, by the competition sponsors. the competition record keeping and consequent feedback has been an essential component in furthering the development of our activities. the odds of winning any design competition do not favor the small architectural practice like ours, but the investment of time, effort and money is typically rewarded through the opportunity to participate in the shaping of architectural culture beyond the confines of the local contracts and internal office limitations.
it would seem that our office has, in fact been denied this opportunity. denied the opportunity to contribute to the architectural discourse related to the volksschule marigrün and platform schulumbau.
although you have provided an outline of the events that led to our exclusion from the competition, it is still unclear to us how this could have occurred and furthermore how the competition sponsors could have allowed, what appears to be an error in processing, to interfere with the fair results of the competition.
there are certain details provided in your report that we must respond to directly in order to clarify our position and to demonstrate the irrational nature of decisions made “not to review the un-opened competition documents and to exclude our submission from the competition process”.
according to your statement, our submission was excluded because “the signed construction cost affidavit was included unconcealed with the competition drawings and therefore caused a breach of anonymity.”
it should be stated that the external consultant engineering office abes wagner & partner zt-gmbh received the competition material and unwrapped the packing and reviewed the documents revealing in our case the unconcealed signed construction cost affidavit.
furthermore, the unconcealed signed construction cost affidavit reached neither the pre-proofing office balloon_wohofsky zt-kg nor the competition jury.
anonymity of the competition documents therefore could have been maintained to the pre-proofing office balloon_wohofsky zt-kg and the competition jury by simply enclosing the unconcealed signed construction cost affidavit in an opaque sealed envelope. this would not have necessitated any drawings or model packages to be altered, “since competition protocol did not include that the external consultant engineering office abes wagner & partner zt-gmbh (office for the protection of anonymity) open any drawing tubes or model packaging.”
regardless of how or why the document in question was left unconcealed, anonymity was not breached beyond the external consultant engineering office abes wagner & partner zt-gmbh. in this respect, it was possible “that during these competition proceedings only anonymized competition documents be made available to the pre-proofing office balloon_wohofsky zt-kg for pre-proofing”. we reiterate that competition entries personally delivered to the external consultant engineering office abes wagner & partner zt-gmbh would not maintain anonymity to the consultant engineering office abes wagner.
it would seem that, at this point, there is little recourse we can expect related to our grievances. the competition jury has concluded its dialog and submitted final remarks directed towards the qualifying submissions. a winning design has been selected after two phases of the design and development. however, as this correspondence might demonstrate, for us the architectural competition neubau volksschule mariagrün is an open-ended proposition. of course it would make sense to stop working on the project, but it appears that we must continue. we hope that our submission to the competition, including this open letter, will be a useful contribution to the continuing architectural debate in graz.