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Riba presidential hustingings 2018 (9)

Riba presidential hustingings 2018 (9)

NEWS FEATURE

Meet the RIBA presidential candidates

Riba presidential hustingings 2018 (9)
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Following a campaign overshadowed by swipes at the institute and ‘gagging’ letters, Richard Waite asked the three candidates what they would do if elected

Phil Allsopp

Bw philip david allsopp credit  glen mire, mire images, llc

How can the profession’s marginalisation be reversed? 
Marginalisation has serious short and long term negative consequences for people’s lives. They are no less dire – and in some cases, no less fatal – than would be the case if, after seven or eight years of education and professional internships, physicians were told that their careers would entail laundering surgical greens and that the critical diagnostic and treatment work they were capable of would in fact be conducted by others.

Our profession can no longer be bystanders to the consequences of our reduced role in society; a role that bears no relationship at all to the scope of services and sustained value we are able to deliver.

The profession and the RIBA must engage with confidence those occupying the corridors of economic and political power, whose actions shape perceptions and understandings of our profession’s significance.

One such group of players are the property-casualty insurers whose profitability and business models depend on safe and durable built environments capable of withstanding man-made and natural disaster without catastrophic loss of life and irretrievable property damage.

According to the SwissRe Institute’s Sigma Report for 2017, global economic losses totalled $337 billion, generating an all-peril global catastrophe protection gap of $193 billion. 

An RIBA collaboration with insurers could identify variations in insurance risk based on whether or not an architect was involved throughout the entire process

Built environments represent a significant portion of these losses, yet in many countries, the majority of buildings have not involved the full scope of an architect’s services.

My approach would be to articulate to SwissRe’s senior leadership, the value that architects bring to the table in reducing underwriting losses and shrinking protection gaps.  

An RIBA collaboration with the SwissRe Institute, for example, would identify variations in insurance risk based on whether or not an architect was involved throughout the entire process of inception, design and construction. 

Insurance premiums and coverage could then be linked to buildings whose entire design and construction had been overseen by an architect, co-ordinating with other disciplines throughout but with the single focus of ensuring that every design and construction decision is evaluated for its impact on people’s lives.

The hypothesis would be that for those buildings overseen entirely by an architect, insurance risks would be lower; for those where architects have been marginalised, insurance risks and thus premiums would be higher.

I would expect this hypothesis to be proven based on the broad spectrum of abilities and deep areas of knowledge architects are able to deploy.

What immediate action would you take to tackle the gender pay gap?
Require, as a condition of membership in the RIBA, that all members who employ others implement policies to eliminate gender pay gaps. Also, members should be required to report their human resources and pay statistics to the RIBA to demonstrate their compliance with these policies.

We need to develop greater fluency in the language of business, policy, and economics

How do you get those with influence to listen to the RIBA?
By articulating the social, economic and environmental value that the RIBA delivers to members and to society at large. This entails leveraging and enhancing the RIBA’s base of quantitative economic, social and environmental impact data and bringing it to the attention of those whose understanding of what architects do and are capable of is minimal at best.

We also need to develop greater fluency in the language of business, policy, and economics and cast our work as a value-added endeavor to those fields and to the individuals operating within them.

Do you agree with comments from the AJ’s recent survey that the profession is a predominantly white ‘old boys’ club’?
Not entirely. But for the profession to be successful in delivering value to people’s lives and to client organisations, it must be much more of a social, cultural and ethnic mirror to the societies it serves globally.

What one thing would you hope to achieve in your first 12 months in the role?
To perfect reciprocity agreements with National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and – in a potentially post-Brexit world – with the EU, to enable greater geographic and economic mobility for UK-educated and trained architects.

Which building by another architect do you wish you could have designed?
The Sainsbury Centre for the Arts by Norman Foster.

Where is your favourite place?
Vienna.

The Mac – rebuild as was, retain and add, or restart?
Rebuild.

What was the last book you read?
A Higher Loyalty by James Comey.

Who is your hero?
Christopher Alexander.

Who do you turn to for advice?
My wife, family and close friends.

What is your biggest extravagance?
Getaways to the Del Coronado Hotel, San Diego.

What do you collect?
Books.

How would you celebrate if you won?
Book passage on QM2 to relocate to the UK.

What is your motto?
Architecture is a public health endeavour.

Alan Jones

Alan jones

How can the profession’s marginalisation be reversed?
There is a window of opportunity, with Carillion, the construction failures of the Scottish Schools and the very unfortunate Grenfell, to forcefully articulate the reasons for having the architect more central to the inception, design and delivery of projects. 

Furthermore, the RIBA and its members must explain and ram home why procurement and contractual arrangements must change. We must help those in and entering our profession to be more outward facing and expert. The RIBA board, education committee and heads of schools are enthusiastic about my advocacy of John Worthington’s ‘education for diversity’, that the Part 2 can include a specialism enhancing links between practice and education, higher levels of insight and expertise, client service and remuneration. 

The RIBA and its members must ram home why procurement and contractual arrangements must change

Remembering and acting on the recommendations of Frank Duffy would help too. We have poor corporate memory and the adoption of Duffy’s strategy of a knowledge-based profession is long overdue. We need to seriously address the 2016 What Clients Think of Architects report. We must align to the broader, longer-term performance and consequences of our work and the wellbeing of our buildings’ occupants and users. We must explain and communicate how small and medium scale practices are well placed to give a local, continuous expert and independent service – with appropriate fees. 

What immediate action would you take to tackle the gender pay gap?
Identify and communicate good and best practice across a scale of different practices. Both employer and employee knowing how others can have no gender pay gap would be enlightening and empowering for both. 

Simple steps like anonymising CVs, removing names, gender and any hints of ethnicity and background would help the profession focus on competence and excellence as the basis for pay and progression.  

How do you get those with influence to listen to the RIBA?
Why? Why? Why? Identification and articulation of problems, analysis and evidence, reasoning and tangible value and being ‘solutions focused’ must be the basis of any engagement with decision-makers. 

The RIAS review of procurement shows how the opinions of external learned commentators can be more authoritative and prevent accusations of self-interest. 

Having meetings is one thing, but individuals involved change on a frequent basis. Written documents help create and maintain momentum and if structured properly can be of use across the nations, regions and international chapters too. 

Do you agree with comments from the AJ’s recent survey that the profession is a predominantly white ‘old boys’ club’?
Those making or repeating such corrosive comments are not being helpful. We, the profession, are under attack and being marginalised. Other bodies that are eroding our position surely smile with glee as they read such headlines in the press. We need to come and pull together to make significant advancements in our role and position in business and society. We must close ranks and focus on the pertinent issues that will increase the quality of service, the fees we earn and the salaries we give each other. 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 must be too. 

Those making corrosive comments about the profession being a white ‘old boys’ club are not being helpful

I have been championing social mobility within our profession, of opportunity for all into and upward through our profession. Together with key RIBA staff we are arranging a summer workshop to develop the timeline from primary school to director with multiple actions for any identified hurdles. 

Opportunity within our profession must be the same for everyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, family background or where they live; and be focused on competence and excellence. 

Everyone I have spoken to believes this is fair, transparent and develops the expertise and level of service delivered by our profession. 

What one thing would you hope to achieve in your first 12 months in the role?
Unpaid internships are still the scourge of our profession. I will give each of our major practices the opportunity to state their position on paying all staff for the work they do – starting at the top of our profession – dispelling rumour and highlighting good practice and leadership. 

Which building by another architect do you wish you could have designed?
Geoffrey Bawa’s Hotel at Kandalama in Sri Lanka is inspiring. It is so sensitive to its location and environment, yet so dramatic. 

Where is your favourite place?
Home. It is important for me to have a place of stability and renewal.

The Mac – rebuild as was, retain and add, or restart?
Retain and renew, making the original and renewed clearly identifiable.

What was the last book you read?
Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Who is your hero?
Too many to list here. 

Who do you turn to for advice?
My wife Laura. Being married for over 27 years, she knows me well and, working in a more exacting, more regulated client-focused profession, her advice is very pertinent.  

What is your biggest extravagance?
My everyday car is an all-electric BMW i3. Although not justifiable on economic grounds, it is important to lead by example; and it is my first-ever car bought from new.

What do you collect?
White mugs. As a collection it encourages choice and reasoning – why did I pick that one to use?

How would you celebrate if you won?
In a modest way, as the real celebrations would be for goals achieved.

What is your motto?
You are only as good as the last thing you do.

Elsie Owusu

Bw elsie owusu credit nana humphrey barclay

How can the profession’s marginalisation be reversed?
By boosting RIBA pride and understanding of architects’ potential for contributing to the resolution we face as a global society. 

Few other organisations have the capacity, skills and worldwide networks (Europe, Africa, Americas, Asia/Middle-East) to provide leadership in the thinking on human habitation in the 21st century – whether on the Grenfell tragedy, housing shortages or the drain of young migrants who walk across the Sahara desert only to drown in the Mediterranean.

What immediate action would you take to tackle the gender pay gap?
We have the stats already and a working group of the ‘great practices’ has been assembled. I would support RIBA honorary treasurer John Assael and Ben Derbyshire’s efforts to accelerate the implementation of a fair pay policy.

As architects we must be brave enough to ‘speak truth to power’ 

How do you get those with influence to listen to the RIBA?
You start by listening to the primary clients, by which I mean the users of buildings. Grenfell Tower is a case in point, where we can listen, sit alongside and act as strong advocates for residents’ rehabilitation and wellbeing. As architects we must be brave enough to ‘speak truth to power’ (private clients, local and national government) advocating for quality of design in the making of spaces and places. This begins ‘at home’ at 66 Portland Place with inclusive, transparent, modern self-governance.

Do you agree with comments from the AJ’s recent survey that the profession is a predominantly white ‘old boys’ club’?
The statistics on demographics demonstrate the veracity of this statement. Lack of diversity leads to ‘unconscious bias’ aka ‘institutionalised discrimination’ and a defensive ‘groupthink’ mindset. Many steps are underway under Derbyshire’s leadership. The RIBA must become creative in welcoming more young people from all family backgrounds, and modernising to embrace the future of digital transformation worldwide.

David Adjaye’s Smithsonian is perfect in every way

What one thing would you hope to achieve in your first 12 months in the role?
A ‘thank you’ – by capping the subs for individuals and chartered practices – for standing by the institute, while inviting younger architects to join the RIBA and help us to modernise the institute and make it fit for the 21st century. 

Which building by another architect do you wish you could have designed?
David Adjaye’s Smithsonian. I know it’s perfect in every way. 

Where is your favourite place?
The Japanese Garden, John Nash’s masterplan for Regents Park. 

The Mac – rebuild as was, retain and add, or restart?
Beautifully crafted and conserved retention. 

What was the last book you read?
Brit(ish) by my lovely niece Afua Hirsch, the brilliant and fearless journalist, and human rights barrister. 

Who is your hero?
Heroine even … Rosa Parks, who sat down so Barack Obama could stand etc. 

Who do you turn to for advice?
Delightfully, my mother, who is a feisty 89 year-old matriarch, and my lovely daughter Kesewa. 

What is your biggest extravagance?
Glass of wine at The Bell in Ticehurst. 

What do you collect?
Memories. 

How would you celebrate if you won?
Glass of wine in The Bell in Ticehurst.  

What is your motto? 
#lovearchitecture

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