Owen Luder's Comments
Comment on: AJ named Magazine of the Year
I have taken the Architects Journal since I was a student in 1944. I got my first job as a Junior Assistant in an Architects office in 1945 as a result of a student free advertisement in the AJ. Over the years consistently a great magazine covering all as aspects of architecture, architectural practice and the profession. This award confirms what has been its consistency over the years. Owen Luder PPRIBA
ARB seem determined to give those whose campaign for its abolition the ammunition they seek to support their case. To change the rule we established when I was a founder architect member of ARB and its Vice-Chairman that, as with most other organisations there should be a period of grace for architects who - despite warnings of the renewal date - for good reasons or bad had not paid up by December 31st, There will be genuine cases where late payment an be justified. Ill-health, away abroad or just overlooked. It can happen. Not to allow any period of grace is brutal and unnecessary. Who complained that some architects were gaining an advantage by not paying until March? Or was this an internal decision - as was the internal decision to charge and find guilty George Oldham for what was alleged to be an unprofessional statement? ARB could possibly justify reducing the deadline to say a month, but abolish it completely and then charge a reinstatement fee - the costs created by their own decision to strike off - was unreasonable and unnecessary. This with the way ARB have incorrectly and unfairly applied disciplinary procedures makes it difficult for us who believe ARB has a very useful and necessary function working with the RIBA difficult to defend. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA Past Chairman ARB
Terry Farrell lacks vision in ridiculing the concept of a hub airport. He is also compromised - or should be - as he has a vested interest in supporting the opposite approach tacking extra runways on various existing airports as he is involved in promoting an extension at Gatwick. We have the opportunity to create a new hub airport on the Thames Estuary with all the obvious advantages. Take off is over water. Not landing over a heavy populated areas. It will also create the catalyst - as airports always do of development - regeneration and employment to the deprived Eastern side of London regeneration The Western side of London is already congested and over developed. Had Maplin been built in the mid 1960's that regeneration would have happened then. The long term future of Heathrow can be decided when the estuary airport is under way. I suspect it will still have a future as air travel will still be growing and it will be used far less intensively to cater for the continued growth in short haul flights. Or will we lose our nerve and lose the opportunity to solve two long term problems. Restricting the growth of Heathrow in an already over congested part of London and a new hub airport that will not only avoid flights over heavily congested densely residential areas and bring regeneration to where it is still required without creating the problems Heathrow has created for West London. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
You refer to my concern about the changes in membership structure and particular the use of the affix Associate to advanced students who are not fully qualified. When I was told that at the Council meeting that the members in the membership survey had voted for that change - I said they were wrong as they had not thought through the implications. It also depended on how the question was asked. I am afraid the changes are there to increase income, are of doubtful value to the majority of members and most importantly will increase the confusion that already exists with the public as to who are properly and fully qualified architects. Owen Luder PPRIBA Nationally elected Council member.
I have concerns about the use of an affix AssociateRIBA by students who have reached Part 3 stage. Not that they should not have recognition and encouragement but that the use of an affix AssociateRIBA will create uncertainty with the public and be abbreviated to ARIBA which will cause problems and very difficult to monitor. However Council agreed to what it was said was a change supported by members in the membership survey but that depended on the question was phrased and whether members in giving their reply and thought through the implications. However Council has agreed to he use of that as an affix and we should accept that but keep the situation under review. Owen Luder PPRIBA
Comment on: Architects blamed for 'crap towns'
The design of everything that has been built since 1947 has had to be approved by the planning system - usually the locally elected Council members - aided and supported by the planning system operated by planners. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
This is a mess. When the RIBA finances are "tight" and that it seems to me is an understatement, spending money on setting up a parallel fund raising body in the USA without I understand even discussing the possibilities with the existing RIBA/US organisation cannot be sensible. It will be interesting to know how this came about, did the RIBA Board agree to exploring the concept of a new fund raising body were they aware of existence of the existing RIBA/US body? Did they agree the cost of the exercise? When they agreed to the new body were the Board aware of the problems it had created with this existing RIBA/US body? In addition to all that as a Council member I knew nothing of all this and Council were never advised or consulted on firstly what was proposed and secondly that should be approved. This is another example where the RIBA Council elected by the membership to be responsible for such important policy and financial decisions are not only excluded from the decision process but are not even aware as a Council what is being proposed. That situation must be rectified. Owen Luder PPRIBA. Nationally elected Council member.
Comment on: Last chance for Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium
As the judge of the stadia design competition in the 1990's I made the Bon Valley stadium the winner from a very high standard of entries. To see it demolished when the policy is to expand sports appears to be another example of Municipal vandalism and short term thinking. Demolition is not the solution - finding more imaginative uses for an existing facility is. Sadly it seems the imagination and will are missing. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
I disagree totally with George Oldham's attempts to have ARB scrapped. Were he and the other members of the so called "action group" sucessful it is unlikely that its powers would be passed to the RIBA. The claim that ARB was set up as a "minimalist" organisation used by those seeking its abolition is not correct. I was President when the Act was passing through Parliament and the minimalist related to th size of the governing body. The 60 strong Board of Architectural Education was scrapped and the 62 strong ARCUK Council rduced to 15 - with seven lay members. As for ARB owers being reduced the oppoite was the case and the offence of "professional incompetence" added to ARB powers. Those who seek the destruction of ARB are misguided .Self regulation of "protected" professions is not favoured at present forobvious reasons. There would be the great danger of the statutory protection of the title "architect" would be abolished with catastropic consequences for the profession and the RIBA. Who would bother to train as an architect for 5 years when others would be calling themselves architects after short training courses - or with no training at all! Havibg said that the ARB disciplianry process are at times questionable and not properly considered. CertainlyI would support Geoge Oldhm's appeal against what appears to be a flimsey case that should never have been brought against him. Itlooks as though ARB has shot itself in the foot in this case. Owen Luder. RIBA President 1995-97when the Architects Act went through Parliament.
I am so pleased to see the Olympic Stadium on the short list. Before the Hillsborough Disaster in 1990 spotrs stadia facilities and design were appaliing. Hillsbough changed all that and suddenly the quiality of sports stadia design rocketed. When I gave the President's Building of the Year Award in 1996 (replaced the following year with the first Stirling Prize) to the new Huddersfield Stadium the Guardian expressed suprise that a football stadium could get such an award. Basically the same practice designed Arsenal's Emirates Stadium for which they have received insufficient credit for its design qualiy and built on time to budget. Despite the quality of the other contenders I hope the Olympic Stadium (by the same architects) wins as it will demonstrate so clearly to the world the difference architects (working with creative engineers) can acheive in changing what was such a "nobody cares about design" building type into top quality architecture that works and gives great pleasure to those who use it and see it. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA.
It is not elegant. It is not friendly. It has no sublety. Wherever you are over a wide area it grimaces at you over the roof tops or in between buildings at street level. It is over assertive. Has no relation to its surroundings. The regeneration of this area was already under way without this very unfortunate addition to the Thames riverscape and London's skyline. Thjis practice has done and can do far better than this. Owen Luder .
I am not at all sure at the RIBA selectively supporting individual candidates for the ARB elections but I am more concerned with this continuing myth promoted by those that want to reduce ARB's role - some destroy it - that ARB was set up by Parliament as a "mimimalist" organisation compared with its predecessor ARCUK. The opposte is the case. I was the RIBA President reposnsible for steering the Architects Act through Parliament in 1995-7. The objective was to reduce the size of the ACUK Council from 64 to 15 and to remove the 60 strong Board of Architectural education completely. Boards were comprised of representives of a wide number of other organisations some of whom were not over friendly to architects and our protection of title. The effect of that was to give back to the profession control of educaton shared by RIBA and ARB. We had to concede a lay majority on ARB in return for continuation of protection of title. It is overloked that vthe Conservative government atv the time had decided to abolsh ACUK and protection of title and we were only saved by the intervention of the Consumer lobby who saw continuation of protection of title as a protection for clients - particularly the smaller clients - which is why ARB was never intended to be "minimalist" and its responsibilities for regulating "incompetence" as well as professional conduct required it to be a larger and far more effective in regulating conduct than its predecessor ARCUK. ARB may not be perfect and the RIBA needs to ensure it does not go beyond its statutory role and itis fair to architects as well as cients but those who attack it and its role are playing with fire if ARB were to be abolished the baby would go out with the bath water and we would lose protection of title. That would be distasterous for architectural education - who would study for 4 or 5 years to quaify as an architect if anyone could call themselves architects without any qualification or training. Also be disasterous for the RIBA reducing it to no more than a rump as an little more than an academic institution. The RIBA should be supporting those candidates whose policy is to work closely with ARB not destro or disassemble it. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
Comment on: Government unveils 55 new free school projects
Ironic isn't it? The Brixton School of Building was a famous vocational school specialising in theoretical and practical building and construction. I was there for a three year Junior course from 1942 - 45. The educational reformers in the early 60's first made it part of the South Bank Polytechnic which subsequently became South Bank University. The vocational aspect was soon lost and in time the building school disappeared. Years later we have realised the mistakes that vocational training is not second class to academic and we need people who are best at using their hands and can have a sucessfull life without an academic degree. So Aylesbury, Burnley Daventry and Southwark are to have Schools of Building. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
Mark Leeson is not quite correct when he says the selling price for housing is based on number of bedrooms. At the upper end of the housing market both flats and expensive houses a major factor in setting the selling price is the floor area being provided. However that housing is unlikely to be classified as shoe boxes! While I support the RIBA being involved positively in creating a public debate to improve mass housing design to concentrate only on size ignores other important issues which make so many spec housing estates so dismal in architectural and environmental design. Also it does not promote our unique skill as architects to maximise creatively the use of three dimensional space. And to allieniate such an important section of the industry and so many architects clients is a high risk strategy. Good at attracting headlines and getting emphatic media coverage but I suspect a lot of architects working on low and middle income housing will be feeling uncomfortable with the headllines the RIBA created. The alternative is to work for improvement within the house building industry and with government to raise the standards of housing and not to attack house bulders so publicly. The reason I guess why members of the RIBA Housing Committee have resigned. Yes there are restricted sites over developed with too many very small houses. But my concern with much of mass spec housing to argue for improving the architectural design and the quality of the environment created on dismal housing estates. Floor area is just one factor. The biggest houses are not necessarily the best. The smallest not necessarily the worst. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
Comment on: PRP reveals Myatts Field community hub and park
I have a particular interest in this area as I lived close to Myatts Fields during the war when In was attending the Brixton School of Building and after the war in my early days of my first marraige. It was always a very nice area in which to live and should now be even better with these proposals. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
For logical practical and financial reasons football clubs who are close to each other should share stadia. For the same reasons those stadia should be designed to be multi purpose to make maximum use of a very expensive entertainment.leisure facility. Wembley could and should have been designed in that way. If it had we would not have had to build another "National Stadium" for the 2012 Olympics. I designed a multi purpose stadium for Sunderland equi distant from Newcastle in 1970 hoping to get Newcastle to share it. Could not even get the Newcastle directors to even discuss the possibility. Governments, the planning system and the resistance of the FA to contemplate having athletics included when the design technology exists to overcome the problems. As an Arsenal supporter I am delighted that we have stolen a march on Spurs with our magnificent Emerites Stadium but it would have made far more financial sense if Arsenal and Spurs had developed a joint multi use facility stadium. The absurdity of the present situation with the 2012 "National" Stadia the issue of retention of athletics and future use should have been resolved before it was built not now. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
Still tough times ahead. Ian Salisbury attempt to link the Budget with his campaign to abolish ARB is very tenuous and dangerous. The last thing the profession or the RIBA need at the present time (if ever) is to do anything to risk losing protection of title. It will open up the opportunity for any Tom Dick or Harry to call themselves "architects". Small practices have enough competition from "non" architects without giving them the opportunity to call themselves architects. It would decimate architectural education. Who would study for 5 years if they could do a 2 year crash course to justify them using the title? The RIBA should work closely with ARB and accept it was set up to protect the interests of clients and not the profession. Owen Luder PPRIBA
The RIBA pressure on goverment to abolish ARB is very dangerous. It will be supported enthusiastically by those who want us to lose protection of title. Sel regulation is not popular - remember the M.P's expenses!! We cannot afford to risk losing protection of title. Every Tom Dick and Harry will be able to call them selves architects. Who will study 5 years to become an architect when you can take a short course or no course at all and use the title. The idea that the use of the title "RIBA Chartered Architect" will compensate is wishful thinking. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA