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Ruth Reed in failed bid to oust Harry Rich

RIBA president Ruth Reed has failed in a bid to oust chief executive Harry Rich through a vote of ‘no confidence’, the AJ can exclusively reveal

The president’s unprecedented ‘no confidence’ vote took place at an RIBA Board meeting earlier this year, and was only revealed to the AJ this week by a source close to the RIBA.

Reed’s bungled bid, which has been described as ‘politically naïve’ by one institute source, received backing from only one other board member. Portland Place insiders have pointed to a noticeable lack of contact between Rich and Reed, who still has five months to go as president before Angela Brady takes the post.

News of the top-level debacle came to light just days after the institute announced an embarrassing U-turn on its policy to scrap the RIBA Trust in response to widespread criticism by members and trustees, resurrecting the independent board and safeguarded assets under a new name, the British Architectural Trust.

Last week, Reed was also forced to apologise to former London Region chair Azar Djamali following her resignation from the region last year.

This week the RIBA launched two initiatives to counter perceived inaction over student wages and fee undercutting. (See below).

The RIBA has also been criticised for failing to properly defend the profession against Michael Gove’s attack (AJ online 02.02.11), which prompted one architect to describe Reed’s tenure as an ‘insipid disaster’.

Further embarrassments for the RIBA include its failure to take over ARB functions (AJ 19.10.10) and the abandonment of its plan to take over design review.

One RIBA member and London-based sole practitioner said: ‘It’s certainly been a very negative period, bordering on one of the worst presidencies I can recall.’

An RIBA councillor added: ‘It is the worst period of RIBA politics in my generation.’

Meanwhile it is understood two of RIBA London council’s five members who also attend general council have moved to resign after protracted infighting at the region’s meetings. A source said: ‘London region continues to be a mess because a lot of people there hate each other.’

RIBA board members John Assael and Paul Davis have both called for the London region to be dissolved if it fails to proceed on an even keel.

Ruth Reed and Harry Rich both declined to comment.

 

RIBA in the news this week


Fees guidance

The institute announced plans to publish a new code of practice for fee tendering following ongoing calls for the organisation to take action to prohibit ‘suicide’ fee bidding.


RIBA Trust

Last week the institute was forced to make a U-turn over its decision to scrap the RIBA Trust as part of a package of streamlining measures (AJ 15.12.10). The move would see the trust reborn and renamed the British Architectural Trust Board. A special general meeting is however ‘still on the table’ according to its backer, Roger Zogolovitch.


Student hardship

The RIBA has introduced a statutory minimum-wage clause covering post-Part 1 students working for architects in the RIBA Chartered Practice scheme. However Archaos chair, Caine Crawford said the policy was ‘shameful’, didn’t go far enough and was a decade late. He said: ‘Surely members deserve more from their institution.’


RIBA London

A letter from RIBA president Ruth Reed apologised to former London Region chair Azar Djamali acknowledging that ‘regulations were silent on the proper procedure’ concerning the vote of no confidence on Djamali, which prompted her resignation from the troubled region last spring.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Is it me or does the RIBA just go from one total debacle to another, from the outside it must seem that our professional body is turing into a complete joke. How can they expect to lobby the government and do anything useful if they are busy infighting, either the CEO or President needs to take control of this mess !

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  • I still can't quite work out what all the fuss among the members in the London Region has been about, but I've been working closely with the staff at RIBA London for the past year on the London Festival of Architecture 2010 and we are now planning for 2012 and, under Tamsie Thomson's leadership, they have been BRILLIANT!

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  • Wholeheartedly agree with the immediate comment above - all this noise by/about the region is distracting from the brilliant work that gets done.

    Tamsie, Mike Althorpe and the rest of the team are a real credit to us in London - I sometimes wonder - what if the RIBA in general had the same clarity of purpose and drive..?

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  • stewart dodd

    I agree with Peter and Ben; Tamsie seems to be doing a great job at the London Region but these stories in the press do make the RIBA in general look like an unprofessional body to the outside world and it surely detracts from what they should be doing. Someone does need to take control and stop the infighting.

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  • I agree with the above. There are very helpful people at the RIBA. I have had good support from the Information Centre and the Education team too. I guess the people who do the good work must feel even more frustrated with this situation.

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