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ARB elections: The race is on with one week left to vote

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The AJ delivers the ultimate guide to the front-runners in this year’s hotly contested ARB elections

Architects have less than one week to vote for who will represent them on the ARB board for the next three years.

This election has been one of the most hotly contested in recent history, with the ARB Reform Group facing an uncertain future after dominating the ARB’s board for six years.

Set up to ‘define and restrict’ the ARB’s powers in 2006, the group has consistently held five out of the seven seats open to architects on the 15-strong board. It previously benefited from tacit RIBA support in its quest to rein in the profession’s regulatory body and reduce architects’ membership fees.

Now, with the Reform Group’s leading lights George Oldham and Colin Brock stepping down, its majority on the board has been thrown into doubt by the RIBA’s surprise move to endorse its own four candidates.

With both the RIBA and the Reform Group’s seven candidates in agreement over the need to restrain the ARB, voters are faced with a new choice over who they want to preside over future reform.

During the election campaign, the Reform Group has been criticised for making false claims in an election manifesto. The RIBA was also slammed for backing some of its members over others.

Meanwhile, the Stephen Lawrence Trust has come out in favour of two ethnic minority candidates who qualified as architects with the support of the south London-based charity.

Despite allegiances, there are still 24 candidates, each with their own manifesto, which means there are almost as many independents as those within factions.

The deadline for voting is midday on 1 March, and the winner will be announced on 10 March or soon after.


All candidates, including the 10 front-runners


Jon Assael

Jon Assael

RIBA-endorsed Assael has pushed for a ‘lighter touch’ ARB with ‘less duplication between it and the RIBA’.

He has hit out at the ARB Reform Group for alleged ‘dirty tricks’, accusing them of making false election manifesto claims. He is director and co-founder of Assael Architecture and a former vice-president of RIBA Professional Services, and is backed by former RIBA presidents George Ferguson, Jack Pringle and Sunand Prasad.

Assael said: ‘The monopoly being advocated by [the ARB Reform Group] is no longer appropriate. The time has come for a much more diverse group of architects to be elected to hold the ARB accountable.’


Roger Shrimplin

Roger Shrimplin

The Luton-based architect, who has previously run for the RIBA presidency and is endorsed by the institute, has warned UK architecture is facing a ‘grave’ threat from EU directives that could undermine its authority.

Shrimplin said there was a ‘real risk’ that architecture could become a four-year course to align it with some other EU countries. The ARB and RIBA must jointly ‘strengthen our game’ to get a message across in Europe, he said.

Shrimplin claims he can ‘do the ARB job’ because he has been in practice since the 1970s and has been ‘deeply involved in professional matters at the RIBA’.


Susan Ware

Susan Ware

Ware is a tutor at University College London’s Bartlett School of Architecture and is backed by the RIBA, having signed up to its policies calling for a ‘minimalist’ ARB. A former ARB vice-chair Ware served on the board between 2000 and 2006 and is seeking re-election on a mandate to support architects by ‘increasing the ARB’s presence, alerting and informing consumers of the value of appointing an architect’. She claims that as an academic with more than 20 years experience, she can make sure the ARB is aware of ‘the impact of changes taking place in higher education affecting architectural education’.


Gordon Gibb

Gordon Gibb

The Glasgow-based architect hit out at the RIBA for endorsing four candidates, questioning whether the institute should be putting forward its members ahead of other architects eligible for election.

Gibb, who runs Gibb Architects and is director of professional studies at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, is campaigning for the ARB to encourage ‘new approaches from architecture schools and practitioners’ and to avoid creating ‘artificial barriers’.

He said: ‘A stable, knowledgeable, confident ARB working effectively with our membership organisations, supporting the profession, presents a solid foundation for improvement of our fortunes.’ Gibb turned down the Royal Incorporation for Architects in Scotland’s offer of endorsement.


Lisa Basu

Lisa Basu

Basu is backed by the Stephen Lawrence Trust, the Deptford-based charity established in memory of murdered teenager and aspiring architect Stephen Lawrence that helps give disadvantaged young people access to the profession.

Basu said her primary objective in standing for election was to be a ‘voice on the board’ for ‘young blood’ and represent future generations of architects. She has also raised concerns about the current challenges faced by students attempting to complete their Part 3 qualifications.

‘We need to support new talented people with fresh ideas and original insights to enter and sustain careers within the profession,’ she said.


Azar Djamali

Azar Djamali

Djamali is standing for election to the board two years after she was ousted from her position as RIBA London chair.

Djamali is seeking a ‘closer and better relationship’ between the ARB and RIBA, and claimed the registration fee should be kept as low as possible ‘to maintain registrations in difficult times’.

‘If the ARB is abolished, the RIBA is extremely unlikely to take over the ARB’s regulation responsibilities,’ she said.

RIBA councillor Chris Roche resigned after demanding an official apology for events which took place in the London Region which saw Djamali resign from her position ahead of a vote of no confidence in her leadership.


Rob Tate

Rob Tate

ARB Reform Group candidate Tate is seeking to maintain ‘efficiency and effectiveness’ at the ARB and to ensure policies ‘do not overburden the profession with regulation’. He said: ‘As past president of the Society of Chief Architects of Local Authorities (SCALA), an active member of the RIBA and supporter of ACA, I believe mutual support within the profession is essential to protect the interests of architects in the current harsh economic climate.’ Since becoming an architect in 1974, Tate has spent 24 years in the public sector and 13 in the private sector.


Andrew Mortimer

Andrew Mortimer

ARB Reform Group runner and RMA Architects partner Mortimer is standing for election for a second term on the ARB’s board.

He claimed his primary objective would be to hold the ARB to its ‘statutory functions only’. Mortimer defended the Reform Group against an alleged breakdown in communications with Portland Place, claiming it was a ‘failing of the RIBA’.

He claims to represent practising architects ‘day-to-day, those younger than 40 who are running a small business’.

He argues ‘continuity is important’ to achieve consolidation of ARB Reform Group ‘achievements to date’.


Ruth Brennan

Ruth Brennan

Brennan is a current board member and director of Ruth Brennan Architects. She was one of five ARB Reform Group candidates who called on RIBA president Angela Brady to give her official backing, but this week, leaked emails revealved criticism of Brady’s presidency (see p.5).

Seeking re-election, she claims to have ‘lengthy’ experience of working in large and small practices, and familiarity with the ‘difficulties facing the profession in these harsh times’.

She said: ‘During my three years on the ARB board, I have made my views very clear on matters that directly affect architects, especially where costs are concerned’. If elected, Brennan will ensure the profession is ‘not overburdened by regulation and bureaucracy’.


Richard Parnaby

Richard Parnaby

Parnaby has run for RIBA president in the past and is professor of architecture at the University of the West of England. He wants the ARB to pioneer new models of architectural training that are ‘closely integrated with practice’ and offer less expensive routes to qualification.

Parnaby claims he has a ‘good understanding of challenges facing the profession’, having been an architect for nearly 40 years and as well as being a recent member of the RIBA Council and a current institute trustee. Parnaby was president of the Royal Society of Architects in Wales from 1997 to 1999.


Bernard Stewart Wyld

ARB Reform Group candidate Wyld is standing for re-election to the ARB board


Hans G Eisner

The ARB Reform Group candidate claimed he would represent regional and public sector architects


Patrick Inglis

As an ARB Reform Group candidate, Inglis sought RIBA backing and demanded clarity over its choice of endorsements


Michael Cummings

Also an ARB Reform Group candidate, Cummings would maintain ARB’s current retention fee and, if possible, reduce it


Alan Cook

RIBA-endorsed candidate Cook is seeking a ‘transparent appeal system’ for ARB disciplinary decisions


Alun Reginald Nicholas

Nicholas is standing for ‘the promotion of greater awareness in the public realm of who we are’


Brian Godfrey

Godfrey is an RIBA associate and RICS fellow, who says he is seeking to improve the public perception of architects


Pam Cole

University of Portsmouth principal lecturer, Cole promises to address the ‘declining status of architects’


Simon Potter

Potter has 26 years experience in both large and small practices and 18 years’ experience arranging CPD seminars


Manos Stellakis

Lupton Stellakis partner Manos Stellakis taught at UCL, Oxford Brookes and the Welsh School of Architecture


Mark Westcott

Westcott said he will take a ‘watch and listen’ position at a ‘macro-management and strategic level’


Tom Young

Young said he ‘hopes to support the interests of SMEs, of which there are many in our profession’


Alex Wright

University fee hikes demand ‘urgent’ updates of policy frameworks, according to the head of architecture at the University of Bath


Kirk Ray Morrison

Stephen Lawrence Trust-endorsed Morrison says low ARB election turnout – 15 per cent in 2009 – needs to be addressed by the organisation




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