The Grenfell Inquiry has appointed former RIBA president Paul Hyett as its architectural expert witness, after sacking its original choice for not being a registered architect
John Priestley of John Priestley Associates, was removed from his role in June – two days after being appointed – after it emerged that he had not been on the Architects Registration Board’s (ARB) register for the previous eight years.
The inquiry announced today (13 November) that Hyett, a principal at US practice HKS Architects and former AJ columnist, would now be tasked with investigating the ‘architectural design’ of the tower’s controversial refurbishment.
Hyett’s report on the refit will look at the choice of materials, the development of the design, compliance with legislation and regulations and the quality of the workmanship.
The report will be disclosed to all of the inquiry’s core participants and presented during the hearings.
Hyett is an experienced expert witness and a specialist in construction litigation and forensic investigation. His previous roles include vice president of the Architectural Association and chair of the Carbon Trusts Research programme.
He wrote a weekly AJ practice column up until 2000, when he successfully ran for the RIBA presidency. The column covered a range of topics, from sustainability to fire strategies and architectural education.
He also has served as a member of the NHS Design Review Panel and as a member of the Exemplar Schools Steering Group.
The Grenfell Inquiry was forced to rethink its original appointment of John Priestley as its expert witness after the ARB launched an investigation into Priestley’s potential misuse of the title ‘architect’.
Despite numerous references to ‘architects’ on his website, including the statement ‘John Priestley is a UK registered and Chartered Architect’, it emerged he had not been on the ARB register since 2010.
The inquiry is currently focusing solely on what happened on the night of the fire. A second phase of evidence examining why the fire happened will begin next year.