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Meier condemns RIBA’s stance on Israeli architects

American-architect Richard Meier has become the latest name to condemn the RIBA’s motion calling for the suspension of Israeli architects from the International Architects Union (UIA)

In a letter to RIBA president Stephen Hodder (see attached right), Meier weighed in on the RIBA’s ‘incredible’ decision to back the motion originally tabled by past-RIBA president Angela Brady.

He said: ‘I find this incredible that the RIBA which I thought of as being an extremely honourable institution would vote or agitate for sanctions against Israel.

He added: ‘I and many many other architects here in New York condemn this action and sincerely hope that it would be reversed.’

The motion which was adopted by RIBA Council on 19 March, claimed that the IAUA had paid no regard to the UIA Resolution 13 of 2005 and had failed to condemn Israeli architects who helped sustain Israel’s policy to allow Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory.

Since passing the motion last month Portland Place has come in for fierce criticism from a raft of organisations including its own Solo Practitioners Group.

But Eyal Weizman, an Israeli architect and professor at Goldsmiths University, and one of 65 academics, cultural and political figures backing the RIBA’s stance, has defended the institute’s position: ‘The duties of professional organizations such as the International Union of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects are not only to promote design excellence but rather the political and ethical implications of architecture, in the UK and internationally.’

He added: ‘Anyone who has seen the built realities of Israel’s occupation would understand that this stand is also professional.’

Both Meier and Hodder were unavailable for further comment.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Eyal Weizman is wrong, as are Angela Brady, Sunand Prasad and other proponents of the motion. The duty of professional organizations such as the International Union of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects is precisely NOT to polarise members into taking up political positions. We all have strong beliefs and opinions on varieties of subjects. Brady and Prasad are welcome to pursue their beliefs in an appropriate setting, but the rest of us come together under the umbrella of a professional body in order to promote what we have in common, and not to be set against each other. There are proper forums for political dissent, and they do not include the RIBA or the IUA, neither of which has a remit for such activities.

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  • Agreed, Stephen Games. While it is perfectly reasonable for politicians to take up Architecture in the pursuit of their goals, perhaps promising to build for the poor and oppressed, it is unacceptable for professional bodies to join in, perhaps even counter productive. In particular, our goals in Architecture ought to be apolitical, the pursuit of a better built environment for all.

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