Paul Hyett made a very favourable impression on the members of Camden Architects Forum when he launched his presidential campaign.
He came across as open, intelligent, articulate, informed and concerned. These are qualities one would expect of any presidential candidate. However, somewhat surprisingly for an aspiring political figurehead, these qualities came combined with modesty, good humour, and confidence.
Does the man also have supportable policies? It would appear he does, with promotion, change and democracy as the three principal aims of his campaign.The most welcome initiative in my opinion is his commitment to a series of meetings for branch chairs throughout the country.
Of the candidates declared so far, Hyett comes across as by far the best choice. I can sympathise with those outside London who feel this is yet another London-centric presidency in the making, and yet I would urge members not to be driven by romantic notions of democracy. Brian Godfrey, as a sole practitioner nearing retirement and from outside London, would not, in my opinion, make a good choice. Far better a notable practitioner such as Roger Stephenson for his work in regenerating Manchester, or Peter Clegg for his commitment to sustainability and Bath.
Equally, Alex Reid, for all his business acumen is not an architect in the truest sense (that is one with experience of designing buildings) and if the membership elects a president as an administrator rather than a figurehead then it seems to me as an institute we are missing the point (that is we are committed to architecture not clerkitecture).
Clearly the debate will run, let's hope it does not run out of steam and, most importantly, let's hope we have some tangible policies which will inform all our choices.
Chris Roche, chairperson, Camden Architects Forum, London N19