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Brennan third in ARB elections

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Ruth Brennan was resoundingly re-elected to the ARB board despite calling RIBA president Angela Brady ‘a prat’ and resigning from her seat on the committee last month

The ARB Reform Group candidate came third in the overall vote and is eligible to serve on the board for a further three years.

However, 82 per cent of members cast their votes prior to her ‘short-term’ resignation in the penultimate week of the election.

Brennan declined to say whether she would accept the position, but an ARB spokesperson said: ‘Ruth Brennan was re-elected so yes, she’ll sit on the Board again.’

The Norfolk-based conservation architect stood down following the leak of two emails attacking Brady. In one message Reform Group leading light George Oldham referred to Stephen Lawrence Trust-backed candidates in the ARB elections as ‘the ethnics’.

Brennan netted 584 votes while fellow Reform Group members Andrew Mortimer and Hans G. Eisner took 620 and 558 respectively.

RIBA-endorsed candidate John Assael came out on top with 743 votes. No Stephen Lawrence-supported candidates were elected.

ARB election results

ARB election results

Three academics – RIBA-backed UCL tutor Susan Ware, University of the West of England architecture professor Richard Parnaby and University of Bath head of architecture Alex Wright – won seats.

Just 4,637 architects voted in the election which had a record low turnout of 13.7 per cent. Participation was 15 per cent in 2009 and 23 per cent in 2006. The board will select a vice chair from its architect members in May.

Assael said it was important to ‘engage the profession more’ to improve turnout.

Mortimer said that a retention fee ‘reduced and kept low’ at £80 meant members had less at stake in the election.

Outgoing ARB vice chair Gordon Gibb said no ‘agenda groups’ had a ‘significant enough stake to impose their will,’ but warned board members left feeling ‘slighted and badly treated’ by the RIBA could lead to ‘some further interesting debate.’


Additional comment


Gordon Gibb, outgoing ARB vice-chair

I am pleased that we have some continuity from the last board and that none of the ‘agenda groups’ have gained a significant enough stake to impose their will.  The ARB board now has two members who have taken the RIBA endorsement and who wish to promote its commercial and expansionist aims.

One could imagine that successful promotion of the RIBA candidates’ platform would force a change in ARB’s thinking and open doors that might otherwise be closed.  ARB’s doors have ever been closed to the RIBA.  Having committed considerable time and effort into working with the RIBA on the matter of overseas prescription on behalf of ARB over the last three years, I do find it ironic that the RIBA candidates’ endorsement was an attempt to obtain something that the ARB has been open to discuss, and into which the RIBA itself really hasn’t put enough work.

Of course the downside for the RIBA of their campaign is that in the re-elected members we have two architects who feel slighted and very badly treated by that organisation, so perhaps that might lead to some further interesting debate.   I am also very pleased to see both Richard Parnaby and Alex Wright elected and I think their academic experience will be of huge benefit.  Both have made a significant contribution to the important work engaged in by ARB in the past.  Alex, in particular, is very aware of the need to deal with the cost of education and student debt in architecture and that is an aim with which I agree wholeheartedly. 

However, in all of this it must be remembered that architects make up less than half of the board.  ARB has very able, knowledgeable and empathic lay members, who are appointed by the Privy Council, and whom in the conduct of board business are really indistinguishable from the architects, other than in areas where an architect’s specialist knowledge or experience is required.  I am sure that the new elected members will find it easy to work effectively with them in the support of the profession and I wish the new board well. 


Andrew Mortimer, ARB Reform Group elected board member

The results of the election are positive for the profession and for continued Reform – all 7 elected members support the principles established by the Reform Group and adopted by the RIBA or indicate similar priorities in their election statements.

The outgoing members should be credited for their service to the board and the profession.

In particular George Oldham and Colin Brock must be applauded at the end 6 years service to ARB many of which have been in much more difficult times than now. George has used his vast expertise helping to achieve the Reform Group’s aims, and must be credited for his significant contribution to transforming the board to benefit the profession over that period. Colin has also contributed significantly to Reform, achieving notable successes including spearheading the protection of title through the audit of the directories. 

The low voting numbers are indicative that the profession has more important things to be worrying about and demonstrates the desire for a minimalist no fuss organisation. I expect numbers are low because architects are generally content that ARB is on the right track - if the registration fee had not been reduced and kept low there would have been more interest.

The Board now needs to get on with its business continuing to work collaboratively with the RIBA and all stakeholders.   

I feel privileged to be re-elected and will continue to convey to the board the current pressures on architects in these difficult times and particularly the needs of those who practice day to day and rely on architecture for their livelihood (like myself).

My priority remains to ensure that ARB suits the needs of the profession and is therefore a minimalist organisation with functions limited to those prescribed by the Act and a proportionately low registration fee.

I am personally excited about getting back to the Board, meeting the new Members and working together over the next three years to serve the profession.


John Assael, RIBA-endorsed elected board member
I am delighted that there are three academics: Susan Ware, Alex Wright and Richard Parnaby - because one of my priorities is to address architectural education, and validation. I want to work with ARB to prevent duplication of activities with the RIBA.  In view of the outstanding support I received I want to be invited to sit at the top table and not be marginalised in some minor committee.  [My top priorites are] more engagement with Members and the RIBA – to work together to protect the public AND support Architects.

[The 13.7 per cent turnout] is poor – but so are the turnouts for the election of RIBA Councillors and even the President. We need to engage the profession more so that the turnout is increased.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • I am delighted to have been elected to the ARB board with a relatively large number of votes. Thanks everyone for your support.

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