Last week the Architects Registration Board, which polices use of the protected title of "architect" in the UK, told Building Design magazine not to describe Piano and Libeskind as architects, as they are not registered as such in the UK.
Following a complaint from a UK architect, the board sent the publication an email stating: “In the light of BD’s readership I would ask that you avoid referring to Mr Piano and Mr Libskind [sic] as ‘architect’s [sic] in any future publications.”
In a clarification published on the ARB website, the body's registrar Alison Carr said that "a significant number of concerns" had subsequently been raised about the matter, adding: "We should have been more cautious so that we get the right message across at the right time, and for that I apologise."
ARB was established in 1997 to police a new law - the 1997 Architects Act - introduced to protect consumers, maintain professional standards and keep a register of practicing architects. Only fully qualified architects registered with ARB are allowed to use the title.
"The whole thing is ludicrous," BD editor Amanda Baillieu told Dezeen. "Renzo Piano is an architect. He trained in Milan. You can read it on Wikipedia."
Baillieu added: "You have to protect consumers from people who pass themselves off as architects - but anyone can put in a planning application. They should protect the function [of an architect] not the title."
The letter from ARB to BD referred to three articles, including "one referring to Piano as architect of the Shard and another about a new project by Libeskind in Hong Kong" and states that: "All three articles make reference to either Mr Renzo Piano or Mr Daniel Libskind [sic] as ‘architects’, however, as they are not registered with the ARB they are not entitled to be described as such."
BD reported reported on Friday that the letter, from ARB professional standards manager Simon Howard, says that it is "OK to call Piano an Italian architect".