Coming to the riba Council in July will probably be a paper proposing that all chartered architects should become fellows of the riba. This follows some random consultations with the membership, and with regions and branches, on which the dc reported to the May Council. Unfortunately the idea was not fully debated either at pmb or in Council before the idea was floated to the membership because of time pressures.
This idea, attractive or not, leaves unanswered the question of what to do for those few who are already entitled to put the letters friba after their name and have chosen to continue to do so. The reason they can do this is that when the supplemental charter in 1971 introduced a single class of corporate member which replaced the three previous classes, (Fellow, Associate, Licentiate), Byelaw 2.13 (c) provided that a corporate member who immediately before the appointed day was a fellow might as an alternative use the initials friba. There were similar provisions to go on using the letters ariba and lriba as appropriate. This dwindling band who were fribas before 1971 includes, according to the riba's own directory of members, Sir Denys Lasdun, Sir Hugh Casson, Sir Peter Shepheard, Owen Luder, Richard Seifert, and (declaring an interest) me. I was honoured to be made an friba in 1968.
If you think, as I do, that something should be done to acknowledge and differentiate those architects who (i) have been fribas since before 1971, (ii) who have chosen to exercise their right to indicate that hard-won distinction to the world, and (iii) think there should be something to aim for after qualifying as an architect in the future, please write to either Clare Frankl or Alex Reid at the riba to indicate your views, in good time before July Council.
My own view is that if everyone is to be an 'F',then the existing old Fs (who must be few in number) should be called companions. I am also concerned that the title of honorary fellow which the riba has been continuing to grant since 1971 will be diminished in standing if all architects are to be called fellows. In addition, a different system for the riba from that obtaining in Scotland would be confusing.
It would be interesting to hear how our proposed new regulations compare with those of others. Please do write in so that we can have a properly informed debate in Council in July.