Paul Hyett, president, RIBA
An increasingly popular pastime, particularly among architects who have been too long away from schools of architecture, is to criticise their output in terms of graduates and work. Ever the favourite line is, of course, 'standards have fallen'- a comment made by those who look back with cheerless sentiment at the dull world in which they trained: long lectures on damp-proof courses and endless recital of misunderstood and misapplied working details. I think notà Not where I studied in the '70s, where the full impact of the mini-car, fashion, space travel, computerised and musical revolutions of the previous decade was still impacting on the architectural world. And not where you studied eitherà Keith Priest, one of our advisors, recalls being told as a first-year student by that brilliant tutor Tony Dugdale to prepare himself for a radically changed world. Dugdale anticipated that the very way in which we work would be revolutionised while our buildings would have to respond to totally different agendas.
And so it has been - CAD/ecological sustainability and all the rest - and how good it is that our schools have not only been able to deliver generations of graduates who enjoy a confidence and competence that secures their opportunity to contribute, they have also, through the rich experimental discourse of the unit and the studio, helped shape architecture's response to the unfolding challenges that our development and construction industry face.
So cast aside the current miserable criticisms of the whingeing brigade and feast your eyes on these pages. They represent a tiny glimpse of the rich and diverse work going on across our schools. And go to the next exhibition or show at your nearest school - don't wait for summer - and enjoy that as well! The RIBA President's Medals is, of course, a sort of talent show: an early spotting of tomorrow's movers and shakers. It also serves as an encouragement to the schools, tutors and students but, most of all, it should signal to the profession that the energy, imagination and vitality of our project-based teaching remains alive and dynamic.
Long may that continue, and long may we have the pleasure of judging such delightful submissions.