RIBA president Ruth Reed has failed in a bid to oust chief executive Harry Rich through a vote of ‘no confidence’, the AJ can exclusively reveal
The president’s unprecedented ‘no confidence’ vote took place at an RIBA Board meeting earlier this year, and was only revealed to the AJ this week by a source close to the RIBA.
Reed’s bungled bid, which has been described as ‘politically naïve’ by one institute source, received backing from only one other board member. Portland Place insiders have pointed to a noticeable lack of contact between Rich and Reed, who still has five months to go as president before Angela Brady takes the post.
News of the top-level debacle came to light just days after the institute announced an embarrassing U-turn on its policy to scrap the RIBA Trust in response to widespread criticism by members and trustees, resurrecting the independent board and safeguarded assets under a new name, the British Architectural Trust.
Last week, Reed was also forced to apologise to former London Region chair Azar Djamali following her resignation from the region last year.
This week the RIBA launched two initiatives to counter perceived inaction over student wages and fee undercutting. (See below).
The RIBA has also been criticised for failing to properly defend the profession against Michael Gove’s attack (AJ online 02.02.11), which prompted one architect to describe Reed’s tenure as an ‘insipid disaster’.
Further embarrassments for the RIBA include its failure to take over ARB functions (AJ 19.10.10) and the abandonment of its plan to take over design review.
One RIBA member and London-based sole practitioner said: ‘It’s certainly been a very negative period, bordering on one of the worst presidencies I can recall.’
An RIBA councillor added: ‘It is the worst period of RIBA politics in my generation.’
Meanwhile it is understood two of RIBA London council’s five members who also attend general council have moved to resign after protracted infighting at the region’s meetings. A source said: ‘London region continues to be a mess because a lot of people there hate each other.’
Ruth Reed and Harry Rich both declined to comment.
RIBA in the news this week
The institute announced plans to publish a new code of practice for fee tendering following ongoing calls for the organisation to take action to prohibit ‘suicide’ fee bidding.
Last week the institute was forced to make a U-turn over its decision to scrap the RIBA Trust as part of a package of streamlining measures (AJ 15.12.10). The move would see the trust reborn and renamed the British Architectural Trust Board. A special general meeting is however ‘still on the table’ according to its backer, Roger Zogolovitch.
The RIBA has introduced a statutory minimum-wage clause covering post-Part 1 students working for architects in the RIBA Chartered Practice scheme. However Archaos chair, Caine Crawford said the policy was ‘shameful’, didn’t go far enough and was a decade late. He said: ‘Surely members deserve more from their institution.’
A letter from RIBA president Ruth Reed apologised to former London Region chair Azar Djamali acknowledging that ‘regulations were silent on the proper procedure’ concerning the vote of no confidence on Djamali, which prompted her resignation from the troubled region last spring.