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Stephen Hodder named next RIBA president

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Stephen Hodder will succeed Angela Brady as the next RIBA president without any election after no other candidate decided to stand against him

The winner of the inaugural Stirling Prize was the only person to have stepped forward for the Portland Place top job in time for Tuesday’s 5pm deadline.

Hodder of Manchester-based Hodder + Partners will formally become RIBA president elect in September this year and stand as president for two years starting in 2013.  

The surprising lack of competitors follows a low 18 per cent turnout when institute members elected its current president two years ago.

Following a keenly contested campaign, Brady defeated Roger Shrimplin and University of the West of England architecture professor Richard Parnaby, receiving 49 per cent of votes.

Hodder, the current vice president of membership, nations and regions, helped to sort out the troubled London region and spearheaded the recent increase in the Local Initiative Fund for regional offices, and said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ by the news. He told the AJ:  ‘I want to be seen as a president of continuity. Communication is absolutely uppermost and I’m going to make sure during my term we really drive through procurement reform.’

Hodder’s one-horse-race to the job has immediately raised questions over the presidential election process which requires potential candidates to harness the support of at least 60 RIBA chartered members. Only RIBA chartered members and honorary fellows may stand for the presidency.

RIBA Council student representative Alex Scott-Whitby said: ‘The biggest problem is that only chartered members can vote for president and this is something we should change.’

Scott-Whitby said student members, known as associate members, should also be allowed to vote.

He added: ‘For democracy’s sake someone should challenge Hodder for this role,’ but added: ‘he will be a fantastic president.’

RIBA Council member Martin Knight of Knight Architects said multiple candidates would ‘raise the profile of the election and generate debate’ but supported Hodder as ‘both well qualified and suited to the role of president.’

However an architect, preferring to remain unnamed, said the much-publicised legal row over Hodder’s Clissold Leisure Centre in Hackney, London which was closed due to defects in 2003 was ‘a gift’ to the mainstream media.

‘How is the RIBA meant to be taken seriously in terms of advocating for architects on public projects [and] procurement when at every meeting Hodder attends, he’ll be undermined by his past record?’

Hodder said: ‘I was expecting an election process but for whatever reason it hasn’t happened. My own perception of [the lack of competition for the role], and I don’t want to seem immodest, but people know me for my work and people know the contribution I’ve made to the RIBA. I appeal to a broad church and I would like to think that is because people recognise that I do a good job.’

Stephen Hodder’s manifesto 

The RIBA is an ambitious organisation with a clear focus on its strategic priorities for the next few years. I am committed to helping the Institute to offer maximum support to our members as well as have maximum impact outside the profession.  I will bring continuity to the great work already in train and development, from procurement reform and increased collaboration, to campaigning and cultural programming.

My areas of focus are:

 Opportunities for architects

 ·        Client Services and advice
Client referrals are of huge benefit to small practices of less than five architects (which make up two thirds of all Chartered Practices), so it is vital we give greater investment and promotion to the resource. Similarly, we need to review and promote the RIBA Competitions process

·          Procurement reform and internationalism
I will give continuity to the great work already started in Angela Brady’s presidency, namely to see through procurement reform and the development of an international strategy. Whilst the UK construction industry looks likely to remain static for some time, we are continuing to see growth in new and emerging international markets. Promotion of our members internationally is essential and not exclusively for large practice.

·        Collaboration
Successful architecture is delivered by the close working relationship between client, a ‘joined-up’ design team and delivery team. I will promote this essential partnership, with the architect absolutely integral to the process.

Membership support and empowerment
·        Communication
I want the grass roots of our membership to be more involved in informing and supporting RIBA policy. I am also keen for the Institute to become an even more accessible knowledge hub for members; our regional structure has a pivotal role to play.

As Vice-President of Membership and Nations & Regions, I have championed more effective communication between branches and their members. But there is much more to be done. We have an Institute that most professions envy but its embedded knowledge is not easily accessible to members. I will support the recommendations of a communications review which is currently underway, including the implementation of a new website.

·       Campaigning
I will campaign for the value that good building and place design can bring to the environment, social well-being and the economy. The Institute is extremely well respected by policy makers and has had many campaigning successes, such as most recently in making the case for design quality in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  We must continue to be clear and focused in our messages and influencing work.

·      Membership Review
Membership of the RIBA is recognised by clients and architects the world over as a symbol of professional excellence. However the full benefits of being a chartered member or practice are unclear to many architects. We need to invest in the review and promotion of the benefits of RIBA membership.

Architectural education
Architectural education and the profession are both in transition and facing their own challenges. I will continue to work for better connectivity between schools of architecture, practice and the Institute to increase greater understanding of the respective demands and opportunities for collaboration. Similarly, I believe the potential for research exchange remains a remarkable, yet largely untapped opportunity.

Cultural Outreach
Good design enriches all our lives. Delivering a nationwide cultural programme that exploits our remarkable resources will remain a priority for me.


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