A group of architects has hit out at the RIBA’s plans to shake-up its membership categories and reintroduce a ‘fellow’ category
The plans which were first mooted in 2014, would see a new membership category introduced for current chartered members who have made a ‘significant contribution to the profession’.
According to the institute, contenders must have ‘fulfilled’ a number of key criteria including having received an award or contributed to the enhancement of the profession.
But critics, including Kate Mackintosh, Peter Ahrends, and Abe Hyeem, say the proposed move presents ‘another hurdle before one can present oneself to the public as a complete architect.’ The original fellowship class was scrapped by the RIBA almost 50 years ago after a poll – led by Mackintosh – discredited the membership status.
The group is now urging RIBA members to vote against the change before a special general meeting on 23 February.
The new membership class had been due to come in last year but was delayed due to issues surrounding obtaining Privy Counsel approval to the necessary by-law change.
The shake-up of categories was originally set to include extra classifications for graduates – distinguishing between Part 1, 2 and 3 students – and allowing Part 3 students to use a newly introduced ‘AssociateRIBA’ affix after their name.
But when this rejig was first revealed in 2013, architects raised concern that the ‘highly complicated’ proposals could confuse clients and devalue RIBA membership, and these have not yet come into play (AJ 26.09.13).
RIBA president Jane Duncan, responded: ’The new fellow membership class marks a shift away from traditional ”fellowships” and will recognise and celebrate those chartered members who have made significant contributions to the profession, regardless of their age or social background.
’Significant contributions might include humanitarian work, contributing to thought leadership, mentoring or leading on a project that has had a positive impact on society.’
She added: ’The new fellow class has been developed following the 2013 Membership Review, the most comprehensive for 25 years. The RIBA Council reaffirmed its commitment to the creation of the fellow class in September 2015. Chartered members have the opportunity to vote on the proposed by-law changes, with an outcome expected at the special general meeting on 23 February. I’m committed to improving the relevance and appeal of the RIBA to as many in the profession as possible.
’The new fellow membership offer is a key part in achieving this.’
Statement from the group
It is to the credit of the profession that it is one of the most liberal and least hierarchical of the major professions.
Sadly we now learn that a few status seekers at Portland Place are intent on reviving the discredited Fellowship Class nearly 50 years after a poll of the whole membership, led by Kate Macintosh, swept the divisive nonsense away.
To the already lengthy qualification period of seven years is to be added another hurdle before one can present oneself to the public as a ’complete’ architect.
Back will come all the anomalies and discrepancies that bedeviled the old system.
It is claimed that the suffix will signal to the public and potential clients that the bearer has achieved a superior level of competence. Leaving aside the fact that many architects produce their best work when they are young, all the original suffix indicated was that the Fellow was old. The main purpose of a suffix is to signal the level of expertise.
It follows that only if the individual has acquired some additional specialism should an additional suffix be justified, as is continental practice.
RIBA members have an opportunity to prevent this retrograde step by voting against it at the upcoming SGM, scheduled for the 23 February 2016.
Postal and online voting is provided for. All corporate members will receive voting papers either in the post or online. To make things unnecessarily difficult no membership number is included in the meeting notice but it is required from voters. If not to hand this can be found on your last annual subscription request.
Print out your ballot paper and email or post to Portland Place. Votes must be received by the 22 February 2016, at the latest.