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RIBA introduces 'fellow' memberships

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The RIBA has announced it is all set to launch its new ‘fellow’ category of membership in the autumn

The new category of membership will be open to current chartered members who have made a ‘significant contribution to the profession’.

According to the institute, contenders must have ‘fulfilled’ a number of key criteria including having received an award or contributed to the enhancement of the profession.

RIBA fellow membership

To be considered for fellow membership, RIBA chartered members have a significant contribution to the profession in at least three of the following areas:

  • Received an honour or an award for a significant contribution in architecture
  • Has led or played a proactive role in a project that has had a positive social or environmental impact at a local, regional, national or international level
  • Has contributed to the advancement or thought leadership of the profession through education, research or technology
  • Served on a local, regional, national or international working group (council, committee, board, commission, task force etc.) that has affected change, influenced or supported the profession, architecture or built environment
  • Made a significant contribution to architecture through local, regional, national or international initiatives and activities

The shake-up of categories was originally set to include extra classifications for graduates – distinguishing between Part 1, 2 and 3 students – and allowing Part 3 students to use a newly introduced ‘AssociateRIBA’ affix after their name.

But when this was proposed architects raised concern that the ‘highly complicated’ proposals could confuse clients and de-value RIBA membership and these have not yet come into play.

The proposals to change the membership were met with reluctance from architects, who raised concern the RIBA, which is struggling to balance its books, could be trying to rustle up extra funds. But a spokesperson for the institution said no decision had been made as to whether there would be a fee for fellow membership.

Commenting on the new fellow category, RIBA president Stephen Hodder, said: ‘The new RIBA Fellow membership distinguishes chartered members for their significant contributions to architecture.

‘We want to recognise exceptional individuals within our membership who are actively ‘giving back’ to society beyond their day jobs, acting as ambassadors for the RIBA and our profession. 

‘The membership review has informed some exciting enhancements to our membership structure that will benefit all over the coming years – our new Fellow class is the start of more positive changes to come.’

Previous story (AJ 26.09.14)

Profession hits out at shake-up of RIBA membership categories

Architects fear ‘highly complicated’ proposals could confuse clients and bring down the value of RIBA membership

Architects have hit out at the RIBA’s plans to shake up its categories for student membership.

The new system, approved by RIBA Council last week, introduces extra membership categories for graduates – distinguishing between Part 1, 2 and 3 students – and allowing Part 3 students to use a newly introduced ‘AssociateRIBA’ affix after their name.

Architects have called it ‘highly complicated’ and fear the proposal could confuse clients and water down the value of the RIBA.

RIBA past president Owen Luder, said: ‘The use of an affix AssociateRIBA will create uncertainty with the public and be abbreviated to ARIBA which will cause problems and be very difficult to monitor.’

Central Saint Martins head Jeremy Till added: ‘It is confusing, hierarchical and self-important, just when the profession needs to be the exact opposite of those.’

Harriet Harriss, senior lecturer in architecture at Oxford Brookes University agreed: ‘There is always the risk that diluting the RIBA brand in this way actually diminishes the status of a fully qualified, professional architect and creates ambiguity as to their remit.’

Meanwhile, some students have also voiced fears over the move. Hannah Fothergill, a Part 3 student working at Bennetts Associates Architects, commented: ‘The majority of first-time or inexperienced clients wouldn’t know the difference between the ARB and RIBA and could mistakenly assume a Part 3 student with AssociateRIBA after their name was a qualified architect.’

A spokesperson for the ARB said: ‘We look forward to talking with the RIBA to ensure that the public is clear about who is entitled to use the term “architect”, which is a protected title in law.’

The membership changes come as the RIBA struggles to balance its books, having announced a £300,000 deficit in its 2012 annual report.

This has prompted some to ask whether the changes are aimed at rustling up funds.

Paul Gray, of Sheffield-based Grayscale Architecture, described the shake-up as ‘a nonsense’ and ‘an excuse to seek additional funds’.

Current associate membership costs range from £60 to £236. RIBA chartered membership currently stands at £256, and £393 for those who have been qualified for more than five years. The RIBA is yet to announce costs for the new membership categories. They are expected to be discussed at the RIBA Council meeting in December.

Tom Dollard, of Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects thinks the new membership categories are a good idea, suggesting additional funds could be used to further engage the profession. He said: ‘Yes, it [the RIBA] will make money out of a larger membership base, but this should be re-invested into the RIBA’s remit of representing the profession and “building a brighter future for architectural excellence”.

‘The RIBA needs to use this extra money to increase support to younger members through a variety of means – promotions, exhibitions, education, events, competitions, networking, discounts on insurance, larger discounts on RIBA enterprises and use of the RIBA buildings.’

RIBA membership

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