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Owusu and Jones throw hats into ring to be next RIBA president

Presidents race collage 2018

Elsie Owusu and Alan Jones have both confirmed they intend to put their names forward to become the next RIBA president

Although nominations for election don’t officially open until next week (17 April) both have told the AJ that they plan to run in the race to succeed current president Ben Derbyshire when he steps down in September 2019. 

The final list of candidates for the role – and for a host of council seats which are also up for election – will not been announced until 12 June. Before then other contenders may yet throw their hats into the ring before then.

Jones previously ran for president in 2016, when he was up against Derbyshire and Andrew Salter, coming second.

In his 2016 manifesto the Northern Irish architect, who spent seven years with Michael Hopkins & Partners and three years with David Morley Architects, pledged to make the institute ‘more nimble, relevant and engaging’.

Jones, who works at Queen’s University Belfast and is currently the RIBA’s vice president of education, told the AJ he was planning to have another go. ‘I will be running,’ he said. ‘I have good support from various past presidents and vice presidents.’

At the previous council elections in July 2017, Owusu jointly coordinated the +25 Campaign – an initiative to significantly increase the number of Black, Asian or minority-ethnic (BAME) architects on RIBA Council. The campaign succeeded in getting eight BAME candidates elected on to council out of a possible 18 seats.

In late 2015 Owusu prompted the RIBA to launch an internal investigation after she claimed there was ‘institutionalised racism and sexism’ within 66 Portland Place.

Talking about her plans to run for president, she told the AJ: ‘RIBA Council now has many more young architects from diverse family backgrounds, thanks to the successful RIBA+25 campaign, supported by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (SLCT) and Lady Doreen Lawrence, in 2017.

‘Twenty-five years after Stephen’s tragic murder, we still need to improve on equality, diversity and inclusion in the profession. At the same time, we need urgent action to increase architect’s pay – especially with huge debts for student loans.’

She added: ‘According to statistics, many young architects earn 20-to-30 per cent less than their peers in the legal and medical and professions. 

‘As recent pay-gap figures show, there’s still a lot of discrimination against women in architecture and with the AJ/ SLCT survey on racial discrimination underway, I hope that this issue and social mobility can also be addressed.’

Nominations begins on Tuesday 17 April and can be accepted up to 5 pm on Tuesday 29 May 2018. The announcement of candidates will follow at 5pm on Tuesday 12 June 2018. 


Readers' comments (2)

  • Amazing! This will be an excellent election with two very impressive candidates. I urge all RIBA members to vote, as we can shape the future of the RIBA together!

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  • Phil Parker

    The architecture profession has lost its position as a principal lead in the building process. This is largely down to the RIBA not focussing it’s efforts on important matters and chucking into a ditch all the rubbish fluff it preoccupies itself with. The RIBA should be supporting and furthering the interests of the profession - not promoting and publicising ‘Architecture’.

    This is why the RIBA is lost and will be until a reforming president takles the problem. Problem is, on many levels, the RIBA is a bit of a shallow popularist organisation and therefore attracts candidates intent digging in the same hole.

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