Returning from the extraordinary heat of the Greek islands, the hot architectural story is the sudden departure of Andrew Finch (no relation) from his job as registrar of the Architects Registration Board. Judging by the embarrassed silence of most of those involved, his going may have been amicable but certainly wasn't part of the script until very recently. His punctilious approach was based on an obsessive belief in the letter rather than the spirit of legislation which brought the board into being. This approach failed to recognise the mutually inclusive relationship between the consumer as purchaser of architectural services (clients), and the mass of consumers who are affected by what architects design (the public). Nor was there much evidence from the registrar of sympathy for, or understanding of, architectural education and the fundamental role played by the riba within the system. This resulted in unnecessary tensions between two bodies which should be working in harmony.
Moreover, it has sometimes seemed as if the board is hostile to architects. The imperious demands for increased registration fees (annoying even the mild-mannered architect mp Sir Sydney Chapman); grandiose plans for new premises (abandoned); insulting conduct code changes (withdrawn); and the vindictive pursuit of riba members no longer registered (Ron Baden Hellard) - all have done little to inspire confidence.
One of the curious aspects of the board's behaviour to date has been its steadfast refusal to allow the press to attend council meetings, though no convincing justification has been advanced. The old registration council invited journalists; on the whole the meetings were appropriately dull affairs. The arb takes all its decisions behind closed doors, provides no minutes of meetings (or attendance lists), and tells us not what we want to know, but what it thinks we ought to be told. Nanny writ large. This magazine has scrutinised the board's activities closely and will continue to do so, not least because most of our readers pay a compulsory tax to fund those activities. We hope that things will improve, and earnestly hope that new faces in Hallam Street will include reporters.