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Brindley leaves RIBA in 'member focused' shake-up


RIBA director Richard Brindley is set to leave the institute as part of a shake-up to renew its focus on members

The internal restructure will create a new members’ directorate which will launch this summer with a newly appointed head. The reshuffle will see Brindley, who has been a director at the RIBA for 11 years and is a qualified architect, leave in June.

RIBA chief executive Harry Rich, said: ‘This change will allow us to serve our members in the UK and around the world even better.

He added: ‘Directly connecting our activities in this way represents a renewed and strengthened commitment to our work in the regions and nations of the UK and to our core membership, practice, education, client and international activities.’

But RIBA councillor John Assael, said he was sceptical of the changes, claiming the RIBA needed to do more to focus on architects. RIBA’s core mission is to promote both architects and architecture.

Assael told the AJ: ‘This [shake-up] probably means a further concentration of power in the executive.

‘Brindley was at the RIBA before Harry Rich arrived and he is also an architect. He was also no ‘poodle’ either and cared deeply about members not just architecture – although in recent years he seems to have been somewhat marginalised.

He added: ‘I am sceptical that a new appointment [to head the members directorate], who might not even be an architect, is anything more than window dressing.

‘Under the present leadership it is unlikely that we will see the pendulum swing back to focusing on architects. It needs to. After all the Royal Charter can’t deliver architecture without them.’

Brindley joined the RIBA as director of practice in November 2003 and then became RIBA director of professional services (2007-2011). He is currently executive director membership and profession. 

He said: ‘It has been an immense privilege and fulfilling professional experience to work at the RIBA with many talented and committed RIBA members and staff colleagues and to be part of making a real positive difference for our architects’ profession and for architecture.

‘Looking back on the last 11 years, it gives me great pride to see what we have achieved together in developing, supporting and promoting the profession through times of great change and challenge. The RIBA and its members are recognised globally as representing excellence in architecture and professionalism. Long may that continue!’


Readers' comments (10)

  • I know Richard personally and his genuine passion for people in general and architect's in particular will be missed. I continue to be concerned decision making at the RIBA and about the value of my Membership.
    Alan McCulloch

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  • Thank you AJ for interpreting the management speak ( which BD did not attempt, and for the comments from John Assael.
    It is very much the line - even from RIBA Councillors - that the RIBA Charter is about Architecture, not Architects, but they forget to read what it says on the tin - RIB Architects, not Architecture.

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  • What sort of perverted logic is it which seeks to justify parting with one of the very few (may be the only) qualified architect staff members of the RIBA on the grounds that this will improve relations with the profession? It is more probably because Brindley was defending members interests more vigorously than suits the taste of the Institute's top brass and has a deeper knowledge of the profession.

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  • I am sorry to see Richard leave the RIBA and I really don't understand how this will enable the institute to get closer to its members. He has always been a great ambassador for architects and architecture alike.

    Phil Holden
    Managing Director of Pascall+Watson
    Chair of the RIBA Construction Leadership Group

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  • I agree with Kate Macintosh, the London based "Royal Institute of British Architects in London" took over from local based membership institutes of architecture in various cities around England in the early 20th Century and has purported to represent the profession ever since. To the outside observer, including some students the RIBA looks like a London based specialist publishing house with a headquarters venue for hire and membership organisation tacked on for historical reasons...... The head of membership services and the chief executive should be a well rounded and experienced practitioner. Devolution would also help with a small federal center accountable to and doing the bidding of the regions on the same lines as Swiss state, otherwise the National organization becomes captured by an elite and special interest groups. The organisation becomes unrepresentative as a learned society will eventually fail, something which nearly happened to the RICS a few year ago.

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  • Well said, Kate and Geoffrey, but I would like them to work on the members being British as well, not only Architects.

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  • Thanks Richard for all you did for the RIBA There needs to be more architects in exec and as CEO

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  • This seems to be a consolidation of the Executive fiefdom -removing the true professionals from positions that might challenge its power. This is dangerous for the democratic functioning of a top professional institute.

    The recent shameful reversal of a an extremely honourable Council Resolution regarding Israel's architects' collusion with an illegal occupation, and pursuing an architecture of discrimination and oppression against the Palestinians who are being cleansed out of their land, epitomises the distancing of the RIBA from the objectives of the Charter and its own principles of its Trust as a Charity- which is the advancement of architecture, and the consolidation of professional ethics both in the UK and on the international stage.

    Instead, the Executive has enable outside lobbies and Trustee pressure to divert the course of true ethics, professional conduct and international law, bringing the reputation of the RIBA to disrepute.

    This and other indications, such as what many feel was a dodgy report by the International Committtee, which disregarded the Palestinian architects' concerns, and instead involving itself even deeper with the Israeli architects who have still not condemned the horrendous escalation of illegal settlements and dispossession involved in their members' practice -show the direction in which this Executive is heading.
    More tight control and an evasion of the real ethics and practice of architecture.

    An investigation of this whole edifice is desperately needed, if the RIBA wishes to be a top rate professional body!

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  • The initiative taken at Manchester Architects is aimed at driving local engagement and promoting values of a professional that has become, like many other institutions, obsessively London-centric. The recent political upheavals in Scotland and the North are demonstrating the increasing irritation of the current model. The levels of disengagement in the membership were amply demonstrated by the abysmal voting numbers in the recent election. It all feels a bit like worrying about 'how many angels can dance of the head of a pin'. The real change will happen elsewhere and the disruption will come out of a clear blue sky. To most members none of this is remotely relevant to their challenges on a day to day basis. And that is lethal.

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  • Richard's departure is the RIBA's loss and the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects' gain. dv Richard will be the Master of the Company next year focusing on promoting London as a creative and design hub through the international networks of the Lord Mayor and reinforcing the relevance of architects in the shaping of the City.

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