Board members have traditionally ensured that one or other of the two leadership positions is filled by a member of the profession.
This move is sure to anger the vocal group of anti-ARB campaigners who often argue that the board is out of touch with the profession.
It will also infuriate the ARB Reform Group, which won the bulk of the vote in the last board election and campaigns relentlessly for the work of the board to be pared back.
Starling started his career in design education as a senior tutor in industrial design at the Royal College of Art (RCA). Later, his research at the RCA into computer simulation as an integrated design and engineering tool attracted him into industry as a software consultant.
Following this he returned to academic life at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he managed the merger of the two schools of architecture in the city, becoming its first administrative director until 2001.
He is now the head of academic development at Manchester's Faculty of Art and Design.
Both terms of office are for one year, and they take effect immediately.