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RIBA announces global membership growth strategy at AIA convention

The RIBA spelled out its strategy for international expansion at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention in Washington, DC last month

Speaking at the RIBA-USA chapter’s annual general meeting, Aedas deputy chairman Peter Oborn, recently appointed vice-president responsible for RIBA International, outlined the strategy over presentation slides depicting the geographical spread of RIBA membership, which includes 35,000 members in the UK and 4,000 abroad – and the global economic outlook.

Oborn stressed the RIBA’s international reputation, and underlined its vision to be ‘the global hub for innovation, professional standards and the dissemination of knowledge in architecture and the built environment, and to help members work around the world.’

Oborn also laid out the RIBA’s objectives for 2012-2016, which include developing international standards for qualification and regulation, relationships with other international institutes, more effective use of the RIBA’s collections to be shared as a ‘global knowledge hub’, its ambition to recruit more alumni from RIBA-validated schools, and improved communication to the international membership. He announced the development of a new International Trade Group, which will provide guidance on international practice.

Christine Murray

A vast gathering of 18,000 architects

Imagine more than 18,000 architects milling about in a huge, airless exhibition space.

The annual gathering of the American Institute of Architects in Washington, DC, was just that. With tours to every corner of the American capital and beyond, the city was primed to welcome the influx of architects.

For those with a British affiliation, the first evening concluded with a reception in honour of RIBA president Angela Brady given by the British ambassador at his magnificent residence, designed by Edwin Lutyens in 1928, the Edwardian architect’s only North American building.

 The RIBA-USA chapter, headed by Jonathan Wimpenny, convened its annual general meeting with guest speakers Angela Brady and Aedas deputy chairman Peter Oborn, recently appointed vicepresident responsible for RIBA International. Brady spoke about the strength of the RIBA brand and the Institute’s role in setting exemplar professional standards and as a global knowledge hub.

Oborn seconded Brady’s observations, noting the RIBA’s reputation for professionalism, integrity, design flair and delivery.

He then spelled out his strategy for RIBA International.

According to Oborn, UK construction is unlikely to reach the level of activity it attained in 2007 before 2020.

By then, the ‘developed’ world’s share of global construction will have dropped from its current 65 per cent to 45 per cent, with the majority of the increase in China, India and Brazil. Oborn said the challenge was ‘to adapt to the world in which we find ourselves’.

Elsewhere the increasing momentum of the American green building scene was evident. For 16 years, the AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) has nominated its top ten green buildings of the year. In one packed seminar with over 500 attendees, each COTE 2012 winning team had a short slot to present its scheme. At the end, a new award called COTE+ was announced. Awarded for the first time next year, it will recognize the COTE building with the best performance data – an excellent initiative. RIBA, take note!

Six years ago, the AIA adopted the 2030 Challenge, calling on members to work towards designing carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. To date, 213 firms have pledged to the 2030 commitment, which involves submitting building performance data of all projects to the AIA.

Among other green initiatives aired at the convention, the Living Building Challenge, an offshoot of the Cascadia

Building Council, which is now international, claims to be ‘beyond LEED Platinum’.

With over 100 projects around the world, including Ireland, it has yet to reach the UK. This is certainly one to watch out for.

Despite a corporate feel, a lot of useful networking went on and the seminars I attended – which count towards CPD – were informative.

Next year’s convention takes place from June 20 -22 in Denver, Colorado. Fancy a tour of the Rockies, anyone?

Hattie Hartman

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