Notes of last night’s meeting:
Presentation by Mr. Harry Rich, RIBA Chief Executive (CE). CE for last 5
Present about 13 local branch members. I notice these were all men, all over
c. 50 years of age!
5 current big causes for the RIBA and Harry Rich as its CE.
1) Clients. Contractors and groups. Some insights to be shared with members as
to how the needs of clients have shifted. Adding value aspect of architect’s
role has to be proved. We should demonstrate more how we do this – well
designed workplaces help productivity etc. Shift dialogue with clients away
from fees to providing added value of projects.
2) Members of RIBA. 40k members?, 28k chartered architects in UK. members felt
that RIBA should do more to help architects e.g. In recession years. Boost
professional standards, uphold standards and architects’ reputation as a
profession. RIBA means something to clients as a mark of quality! e.g.
Domestic clients. Sole practitioner are being undercut doing domestic
drawings. Questioned by a member (Scottish guy). RIBA have been reviewing
membership structure to make it more relevant to its members. Many members
feel that they have no place in the RIBA organisation…RIBA trying to be more
welcoming to the club as it were…including non-chartered members… And more
non-UK members are encouraged to join up.
3) Leadership/Influence. Lobby and lead to promote built environment to make
practice easier/better etc. Planning aspects!!! Wish for government to listen
to our complaints with planning system! NPPF (national planning policy
framework) was influenced by RIBA. Some wins on planning front. Funding of
planning department – RIBA pushing hard here. RIBA campaigning for new homes!
Evidence based etc. Government review of space standards involved RIBA etc.
Huge public input also on this.
4) Knowledge/Innovation/Culture. Experience of RIBA members. Sharing
experience. Branch network getting stronger. Shared and help each other.
Collections of architectural books, drawings, models and so on. RIBA own 85%
of Palladio’s drawings and so on! Famous architects archives: huge amount of
stuff to use for communicate with general public through exhibitions e.g. in
Portland Place. Edmund Smith photographer current exhibition. See RIBA
website. Members of public being informed about arch’re. 6 big names
architects exhibition involved 25,000 visitors. BBC liaison for TV programmes.
RIBA Stirling Prize coverage now huge. Winners announce in October. Polling on
website and News coverage.
5) Business Services. Value for money. Headline fees £7M per annum. RIBA raise
another £7M on other business activities. New gallery in L’pool to avoid RIBA
being seen as too London-centric. RIBA’s website has been improved to talk
about arch’re more and excite the general public. Also member areas will be
improved soon to make it easier for members.
Education review – little change of syllabus in 20 years ..quality and
relevance important. Like to enhance the flexibility of architects/ in and out
of education! Make education more relevant to practice.
Role of chief exec. Visit branches about once a fortnight. Organisation –
there are 60 councillors on RIBA Council. RIBA Board made up of members. Staff
run regional offices. Library etc. CE runs the paid staff.
Tarsem Flora? Planning officers now getting more unhelpful and less
experienced in design! Planning officers ignorant of local issues of the areas
they serve! RIBA members fed up with this! CE said Farrell’s suggestion of
each council having chief architect is unlikely cos of lack of money.
Jim Groux. Lack of RIBA influence on planning system. Lack of influence
generally. CE said they are working hard to address…! Central government
Alan Longhurst. Let’s take Croydon guidance on 32 pages on what you do on a
planning application. Mindset is now relying on applicant having to provide
huge extra amounts of additional information, e.g. a lot of work. Anon: Fees
for architect will have to rise to meet the extra co-ordination work involved?
Huge posse of design team members…Now needed. Huge costs involved in going
for planning applications for a major scheme. Offputting. Clients then seek
major contractors to underwrite the costs of planning application.
Undercutting the role of the architect. Alan: central government contradicted
by local councils activities.
Scots sounding guy sitting next to Alan, agreed with Alan.
Tarsem wanted the planning system seriously changed. All too complex.
Jim Groux. CIL too high £140 psm! Ridiculous. Fees for architects threatened
as a result threatening design quality!
CE: General Election May 2015. Coming document by RIBA for lobbying
parliamentary candidates on our issues to improve local areas.
Alan: CIL huge cost stealth tax! Croydon Council – min Labour council’s
standards of affordable housing are threatening viability of schemes. North is
similar is to rest of S London. South like Surrey. Centre of borough is exempt
from CIL! Centre has no schools. Council want to shift affordable housing in
the south! This won’t happen and acts as a brake on development. Housing
prices are locally rocketing and slowing development schemes…
Scots guy. CIL is killing schemes in Richmond as well. CIL making RIBA members
lives very hard. Delays by fees.
CE is recovery real? Alan said that things a bit better. Turnover is about 50
% of what it was 6 years ago. Profitability is only up a little bit… Alan
said it was very modest. Jim Groux said fees were throat cutting!
Chap (curly-haired chap, looks like Max Hutchinson) said fees were terrible!
He earned much from party wall work. Said lower quartile salary levels
pathetic for profession. Old guy white haired said no protection of design
other countries restricted to architects only! Not in UK though! EC said he
didn’t have magic wand! (740pm). EC said many archts abroad suffering from
very little work!
CE: doesn’t believe argument will sway with policy heads in government. Scots
guy: Building insurance networks could help archts. On costs of insurances
when sole etc. practitioners retire.
Can we influence insurance industry to insist archts do the design of schemes.
Not allowed to be submitted by Joe Public…
Jim Groux said he could more easily charge better fees for non-architectural
work e.g. Expert witness work!
Alan: CPD system is not user friendly! Intensive Summer local courses could be
attending which you pay for which is relevant and not about what about
manufacturers flogging products/literature! CPD under sufferance and
Guerilla conference: Alan said it also fails to be useful. Doesn’t cover non-
Suggested Venues for CPDs: local colleges.
Hamish: CPD offered is usually too product orientated.
Alan said RIBA training of archts is not improving!
Scots guy: Revit type skilled technicians are ignorant and getting
worse…year on year. Schools teaching rubbish!
Quality of architectural students. Tarsem felt that this had improved!
Alan said schools keen on foreign students fees!
CPD summer school! Most members agreed to idea of paid for modestly priced 2
days a year. RIBA quarterly sessions were very good.
BIM experts may take away work from architects. Architects beware… 3D work
is astronomically costly! Design build contractors – big names have gone,
expertise has gone of traditional contractors! (8pm)
Jim Groux: 6 members normally turn up! Need bigger branches. 300 members in
Tarsem Flora: RIBA funding of branches! CE responded… RIBA funding of
branches pocket money. Local initiative fund. Branches can apply for it
easily. Local schools. CE said that 4 branches have revived with LIF funding
for “schools programme”.
Chair: Next week at 18th Sep – discussion on architects dealing with party
wall matters from 630pm!
Jim giving a future talk on project management. Jim’s colleague on CDM.
Xmas get- together. Local architecture festival.
Lobbying for RIBA Journal space for articles! Meeting
Ended at 815pm!