Alan Jones is to temporarily step down as RIBA president, but the reasons for his shock decision remain unknown
Jones himself emailed members of RIBA Council this morning (31 March) to say ‘a matter had arisen’ in his personal life.
In the note, Jones added: ‘I’m grateful for the strong support I have from my wife and family. I need to take some time out from my duties as president and would be grateful if everyone could respect our privacy.
‘I appreciate this comes at a time when there are extraordinary demands on everyone and I can only ask that you reinforce your support to our staff and senior officers during this period.’
A separate email was also sent to all RIBA staff earlier today saying that Jones, who has only held the post for seven months, would not be contactable for the next ‘four to six weeks’.
The institute’s chief executive Alan Vallance gave no explanation for the Northern Irish architect’s absence from RIBA headquarters at Portland Place in central London.
It was announced in the same email that the institute’s board had met yesterday (30 March) to install RIBA honorary secretary Kerr Robertson to ‘oversee presidential responsibilities’ on an interim basis and that he would chair the RIBA’s next council meeting.
In a statement given to the AJ, Vallance said: ‘We will be working as hard as ever during the president’s time away to ensure minimum disruption to the RIBA business.
‘The RIBA is led by a team of dedicated senior trustees and expert staff, who will continue to support our members and represent their interests at the highest levels.’
Jones took over as president from Ben Derbyshire in September 2019, having won a hotly contested election a year earlier against Elsie Owusu on his ‘Architect first’ campaign ticket.
In the same month, he published a 256-page book, co-edited with Rob Hyde, called Defining Contemporary Professionalism.
Within the first weeks of his arrival, he replaced the Charles Eames ‘president’s desk’ with a new ‘collaboration table’ which was signed by visitors to his Portland Place office.
Both Jones and the RIBA were contacted for further comment.
More to follow.