CEO and co-Founder of Transpolis Global, with offices in Scottsdale, London and Prague (www.transpolisglobal.com). Transpolis, founded in 2010, exists to improve the social, health, economic and environmental dimensions of well-being. The firm’s work includes shaping policies and design so that resulting built and natural environments are better able to address enduring yet largely unmet human needs, values and aspirations.
Also serve as Vice President and member of the executive team for MESA Indian Development Group (a Gila River Indian Community corporation devoted to increasing tribal economic sovereignty, sustainable development and cultural integrity).
Professional and academic qualifications span the fields of architecture, environmental physics and energy conservation, system dynamics and public health.
Its very hard to make a judgement call on good, bad or indifferent as far as RIBA Presidents go. We have an ineffective system of bringing in practitioners to serve for a short two year period during which time they appear to have little power or time to exert proper executive control over a bureaucracy which too often seems out of touch with the business and professional realities faced by architects and also by students.
I would advocate for a major change in governance whereby the President & Chief Executive Officer is a single role elected for a period much longer than the 2 year revolving door that currently exists; maybe a 5 year properly compensated term. The elected person would have the power to reshape the innards of the RIBA, and also the Institute's position relative to policy-making and legislation impacting human health and wellbeing, where built environments play a decisive role in almost all cases. Under the control of that Chief Executive/President role would also be education; an area in need of major overhaul in my mind so that graduates are significantly better equipped in the future in the sciences, the physics of built environments, human wellbeing and the design of human habitats, a deep knowledge and expertise in BIM and new laser scanning and digital photogrammetry technologies and business. If architects want to operate as orchestra conductors, they had better be able to read music and play a large number of the instruments before them.
My comments may to some be off topic but the question of whether or not a particular RIBA President was good or bad has a great deal to do with their ability and tenacity to shape governance changes, corporate strategy, education and public policy, all of which depend on talent, experience and the ability to occupy the role for more than the very short two year tenure as it stands today.
Frei Otto was a great architect and engineer. His structures are indeed inspiring in many ways - much more so than much of our built environment these days.
However, the great man deserves better than an obituary laced with dreadful archi-babble as exmplified by "His ‘form finding’ methodology of not only learning from nature but of directly harnessing nature via models that channel the forces of physics and materiality into morphogenetic processes was an amazing breakthrough that disrupted 3000 years of architectural reliance on simple geometric figures"...
Really? No wonder many in the general public and allied professions regard architects as out of touch, inarticulate people incapable of plain talk and obsessed with their precious creations.
Philip D. Allsopp, D.Arch, RIBA, FRSA
During my four-year tenure as President and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (FLWF) and as President of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, I had to deal with the debilitating presence of competing Frank Lloyd Wright named charities. Many of these engaged in egregious violations of FLWF copyrights and trademarks, claiming falsely to be the true organization that Wright founded - which he most certainly did not. This situation meant that fund-raising for the FLWF was extremely difficult, not least because donors had a very hard time indeed understanding why there would be, for example, a "Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust" - created in Chicago around his home and studio historic house in Oak Park, and the "Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation", which was and remains the only entity that Wright himself created to preserve his works.
Harry Rich's idea of setting up a competing entity (now apparently ratified by the RIBA Board) is naive in the extreme and will create great confusion among potential US donors as to which entity is the "real" entity worthy of their support. The last thing donors want is to have their money "managed" by one entity. which takes a percentage off the top, and then sends a portion of their donation on to the entity the donors actually thought their money was supporting.
Collectively, the RIBA-USA Region has deep and enduring personal and professional connections in the United States born out of many decades of RIBA-USA members living and working here. Harry Rich's adventure in the United States to set up an organization intended to funnel money from US donors to the United Kingdom will most likely compromise extant RIBA-USA relationships. Just as I saw with the numerous "Frank Lloyd Wright" named organizations, a great deal of time-wasting, legal costs and confusion will likely result by the RIBA in London sanctioning the creation of another entity in the United States bearing the RIBA name and claiming to be something that it most certainly is not.
Phil Allsopp, RIBA, FRSA
Vice President, RIBA-USA Board of Directors