Lucy Mori's Comments
I wish Opinion Leaders like Norman Foster would lead by example. Looking at http://www.fosterandpartners.com/about-us/ , there are 10 Senior Executive Partners at Foster and Partners. All men. There are also 8 Senior Partners, all men. Looking among the long list of about 120 Partners, I counted just 12 women. I am pleased for the AJ to get such a high-profile judge for the Women in Architecture Awards but the most effective way for Norman Foster not to 'hide and overlook' women in architecture would be to promote one or two women to the Senior Management of his practice. The RIBA Business Benchmarking Report states that 'Women account for a third of all personnel but only just over a quarter of fee earners. Regardless of practice size, the percentage of women falls steadily by seniority, averaging 41% of Architectural Assistants but only 13% of Partners or Directors.' I would love to see the architectural profession follow the FTSE 100 Thirty Percent Club initiative and aim for 30% of Senior Managers to be women. http://30percentclub.org/ Then young architects might have credible role models.
Comment on: Obituary: Richard MacCormac (1938-2014)
I am sad and shocked to hear this news. I have memories of Richard chairing Professional Practice Part 3 seminars for Cambridge students in MJP offices the early 90s. Committed to the training and education of the profession, and sharing his knowledge. RIP
Interesting to see the result of a collaboration between a large established practice like Scott Tallon Walker and a new up-and-coming practice like Edward Williams Architects. Here the collaboration is called an 'association' - but I wonder who has done what to get this large complex project successfully though planning. Clients often favour teams of 2 or 3 architects on risky projects to 'cover all bases.; but for the architects it can be a complicated 'marriage of convenience'; and for all it usually a 'learning experience'. I look forward to seeing which architect has gained the client's confidence to take leadership of the project as design development and construction phases start.
The BBC's bias is a real pity. Mass media, and especially the BBC and the Open University, influence not only how we perceive the past, but also how we plan for the future. Research shows that diverse teams are more productive, more successful and more creative. 'A Danish study found that companies with good numbers of women on the board outperformed those with no women by 17% higher return on sales and 54% higher return on invested capital.' 'Leeds University Business School reports that having at least one female director on the board appears to cut a company’s chances of going bust by about 20%. Having two or three female directors lowers the risk even more.' As the economy picks up, architectural practices need the best people - and that includes women. 'Looking to the future, 63.6% of girls achieve 5 or more GCSEs at grade A* to C or equivalent, including English and mathematics, GCSEs compared to 54.2% of boys' The architectural profession needs to look around itself and see what is happening in other traditionally masculine businesses like Lloyds Bank (who recently announced 40% of its 5,000 senior workforce will be made up of women within the next six years) and realise that urgent action is needed now. Practices and the RIBA need to be pro-active to support more women to take senior positions in practices. For more data about the advantages of having more women working : http://opportunitynow.bitc.org.uk/WomenWorkFactsheet#sthash.yanfQHLf.dpuf
Comment on: Avanti wins Florey revamp contest
I am surprised that local Oxford practice Berman Guedes Stretton have not won this job - especially since Alan Berman is a world expert on Stirling. On another note, I hope that this was not another example of opportunistic clients getting lots of creative ideas from architects for very little; or architects giving away their innovative ideas for free? Any comments from the RIBA competition review group?
Thanks for the clarification about the competition - I am glad to hear that the competition organisers did not ask for significant design work to be done up front for free; good that the selected architects will be paid for their input. I was basing my comments on the information concerning numbers of entries in the article above and the illustrations in the AJ digital edition which are exquisite and look like CGIs of a design scheme produced by architects. The images are not credited - so sorry if I jumped to the wrong conclusion. This does not change my mind about competitions which I believe are a waste of resources and an inefficient way for clients to select architects and for buildings to be procured.
Another competition with a long 'short-list' of architects spending vast amounts of money in the hope of winning a high-profile job. 40 practices submitted detailed designs with beautifully rendered CGIs; 6 practices have been short-listed and are getting some publicity; 3 will develop their designs; one will 'win'. But will the project even be built? This site has a history of public and local authority opposition to development if I remember rightly. There is so much waste in the competition system and the high stakes make it impossible for small practices with modest incomes to compete. So the result is a list of AJ100 practices, again. Clients and commissioning authorities are taking advantage of architects. I believe the RIBA has instigated a review of the competition process. I hope that the RIBA will recommend restricting the amount of work done by architects and limit the number of practices on the short-list to 3. The time frame also needs to be reduced - this process takes too long and creates too much uncertainty. Clients should be encouraged to make decisions and appoint their architects properly. We all know that the best projects are the result of a collaboration with client and designer which does not come from a competition scheme.
Comment on: DSDHA wins Stockwell public realm job
It is very good to see some investment in public space by a Local Authority - and it is also heartening for the profession when a tendering authority selects a design-led scheme and an award-winning practice. Hope no economic crisis stops this project from progressing.
This looks an exciting project for a rural location - difficult to imagine getting planning permission for a similar project in rural England. I look forward to seeing the photos when completed.
Comment on: Hundreds bid for Peabody small projects work
Wow - 300 entries! This response demonstrates how keen architects are to work for a client like Peabody who values good design and builds for the long term. Although I am not surprised by the huge response, I am concerned by 2 questions 1 How will Peabody select their shortlist? 2 Did practices calculate the cost of submitting and probability of winning? When I was editing the RIBA Public Procurement Group paper 'Building Ladders of Opportunity', Walter Menteath raised the issue of 'bid-thinning' criteria. What criteria will Peabody use to get the 300 entries down to a manageable number which can assessed in detail? Will it be a beauty parade? Will they be influenced by names and projects they already know? Or the opposite - will they deliberately ignore the architects they have already worked with to avoid favouritism? With respect to the costs and probability of winning - Peabody have been more reasonable than some competition or tendering authorities by asking for only 2 A3 boards. However, you can be sure that many practices spent at least week preparing material ... So let's calculate : 40 hours @ £50 an hour is £2000 per practice plus let's say £500 for printing and posting. That means Peabody is getting £600,000 worth of work up front. So what is the probability of an architect getting on this framework and then actually getting some fees to design and deliver a building? 8 in 300 is about 2.6% which is not high. The news that there have been so many entries tells me that few architects calculate the true cost of submitting for a competition, consider the high probability of not winning and evaluate the opportunity costs. The profession really needs to find a way to engage urgently with clients and tendering authorities to reduce the waste of resources inherent in this process and finding a fair way to select architects.