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Alan Jones wins RIBA presidential election

Alan Jones Hon FRIAS PPRSUA copyright Malcolm Cochrane crop
  • 4 Comments

Alan Jones will be the next president of the RIBA after winning an unusually eventful election battle 

The Northern Irish architect and current RIBA vice-president of education beat rivals Elsie Owusu and Phil Allsopp to become the 77th president of the institution, receiving 2,704 votes (51.66 per cent).

Owusu polled 1,673 votes and Allsopp received 857.

Jones will take over from Ben Derbyshire in September 2019. Turnout in the biennial election was 18.97 per cent, an increase on 2016 when just 15.2 per cent of the membership voted.

The architect, who works at Queen’s University Belfast, also ran for the role in 2016 against Derbyshire and Andrew Salter, coming second.

During his election campaign, Jones pledged to ‘put architects first’, improve the representation of the profession and said that if made president he would seek to hold a referendum on the future of the RIBA.

Speaking after the win was announced, Jones said: ’I am honoured to become the next President of the RIBA and wish to thank everyone who supported me, engaged with the election process and took time to vote.

’I appreciate respect is not given lightly and must be earned. I am hugely grateful for the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Ben Derbyshire and past presidents, people who I have huge respect for. I wish to build on their successes.’

RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said: ’Congratulations to Alan Jones on the vote of confidence he has received from our members. I look forward to supporting him in the role both as president-elect and after I’ve passed on the baton next year.’

This year a series of controversies meant a there was a higher level of interest in the election than in previous campaigns.

Most notably, the RIBA sent a ’cease and desist’ letter to Owusu in an attempt to stop her making ’damaging public statements’ about the institute.

The letter came after Owusu criticised the salary of RIBA chief executive Alan Vallence during a hustings in Leeds. 

At the hustings, Jones came to Vallance’s defence, arguing the RIBA Board had reviewed salaries against CEOs of other charities.

Owusu made the headlines again earlier this month. In the final days before voting closed an email that Owusu had claimed was a ‘death threat’ against her and which she had reported to police in 2016 was leaked to the AJ and revealed in its entirety for the first time (see Elsie Owusu ‘death threat’ email revealed in full). 

In a recent Q&A with the AJ, Jones said if he won the election he would celebrate his victory in a ’modest way’. 

Previous turnouts 

2016 Ben Derbyshire 15.2 %

2014 Jane Duncan 16.7%

2012 Stephen Hodder N/A

2010 Angela Brady 18%

2008 Ruth Reed 18%

2006 Sunand Prasad 27%

Alan Jones’ response in full

I am honoured to become the next President of the RIBA and wish to thank everyone who supported me, engaged with the election process and took time to vote. I appreciate respect is not given lightly and must be earned. I am hugely grateful for the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Ben Derbyshire and past presidents, people who I have huge respect for. I wish to build on their successes.

The RIBA is a fantastic organisation with great resources, particularly its staff who I am keen to support more than ever. As individuals and as an institution, we need to come together to make the most of our assets, and make the case for our profession. We need to gather evidence and realise a more significant role and position in business and society.

We must focus more on the pertinent issues that will increase the quality of service we provide and the added value we can bring. We must reduce our overheads and the loss of colleagues and expertise as they leave our profession because of the economics of our situation. Talent is universal and opportunity into and upward through our profession must be too. 

Comment

Paul Finch, AJ editorial director
Alan Jones is a good architect who should be able to lead a campaign encouraging architects to stand up and be counted in discussions about accountability, design standards and decent housing provision. One can only hope that his tenure will continue Ben Derbyshire’s efforts to focus on outward-facing issues that matter to the public, and the promotion of the institute’s broad cultural programme as part of British public life. It would be good to think 66 Portland Place might become an architectural showcase, instead of a hotel de luxe, where rooms are available by the hour, architectural activity not required. 

Twitter reaction

 

 

 

  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • So very pleased! The RIBA will have a thoughtful and considerate leader, and the profession will have a great advocate for social mobility with Alan Jones.

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  • Chris Roche

    Congratulations to Alan Jones on winning the election to become the next President of the RIBA. He will preside over a post-brexit period with as yet unclear and unprecedented outcomes for the profession. If he is to deliver on his promise to hold a referendum on the future of the RIBA he will need courage, confidence, and clarity of purpose. I for one wish him luck.

    Chris Roche / Founder 11.04 Architects (X-RIBA Council)

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  • Gordon  Gibb

    Congratulations to Alan. Good to see someone with real experience of education and practice, and not from London's parochial bubble, being brought forward to the driving seat. Hopefully Alan's mandate will allow improvement of the RIBA's stance on education and will enable stock to be taken of what the RIBA actually does for those who actually pay for it to exist, through his promised review of the Charter.

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  • Phil Parker

    Alan, buck the trend and focus on doing one big thing.

    How about changing the consitution so members cannot poach work off each other or do nil fee bids. This might just be the basis for building a strong profession.......

    If not, I’m afraid you end up like all you predecessors in a kind of Sadiq Kahn limbo of nothingness.

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