From: Peter Kellow RIBA
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Dear fellow Overseas RIBA Member
I am proposing to stand for RIBA Council as an Overseas Member this year and I wonder if I could have your support.
If you would like to help, all I would need is your signature as an Overseas RIBA Member on the form (see below) with your RIBA number and your address. (I need ten of these).
I have served on the committee of the Traditional Architecture Group, a society linked to the RIBA, for five years as Communications Secretary building and managing the website and newsletters.
A particular concern of mine is architectural education and I run the ‘wikisurvey’ of the content being taught at RIBA registered architectural schools. This results of this survey will be of benefit to the whole profession and the public at large.
I have been an RIBA member since 1979 and was a partner in the award-winning architectural practice of Pinchin Kellow for 15 years in London. I was elected a member of the Art Workers Guild in 1984.
My experience and approach to architecture is available on my website www.peterkellowarchitecture.com.
I am also a writer and a regular contributor on art and architecture for the New York magazine American Arts Quarterly
Why I want to sit on the RIBA Council
The Traditional Architecture Group with which I am involved exists to promote traditional architecture but this is not my objective in standing for Council.
I wish to campaign for professional values and public respect for the profession.
The position of the architectural profession has been eroded over many years and I believe this is not in the interests of either the profession or the public at large that it serves
To this end for the following are briefly the main issues I wish to stand on
- Abolition of ARB
- Protection of architects' function
- Make the position of President full-time, fully salaried
- Restructure RIBA premanent staff to give President leadership
- Review expenditure and staffing at RIBA HQ with a view to rationalisation and efficiency
- Ensure architecture education is fit for purpose
- Promote design competitions to support the emergence of new practices
- Abolition of all design panels, including CABE
- Establish architectural ombudsman to replace ARBs function of dealing with complaints against architects
- Use 66 Portland Place for the benefit of members
- Keep the Library open at all times and available to researchers
Within the context of most major European countries few of these proposals would be necessary.
The following contains more details on these objectives
- In the original RIBA Act of Charter (1837) the spirit was that the RIBA (originally without the word "Royal") would be the sole architects' regulatory body. It states:
Thomas Philip Earl De Grey … and divers others … have associated together for the purpose of forming an Institution for the general advancement of Civil Architecture, … [and] members of the said society, … shall … be the Members of and form one Body Politic and Corporate for the purposes aforesaid, by the name of 'The Institute of British Architects', by which name they shall have perpetual succession ... with full power and authority to alter, vary, break and renew the same at their discretion." [my emphasis]
- The 1837 Charter was effectively but not explicitly revoked by the Architects Registration Act of 1931which created a separate registration body, ARCUK
- It was formally revoked by the Supplemental Charter 1971 and Byelaws.
STRUCTURE OF PROFESSION: ARB
- I will campaign for the abolition of ARB and repeal of the Architects Act of 1997 and of the Architects Registration Act of 1931 and 1938 which establised its predessor ARCUK. These acts were in contradiction of the Charter of 1837
There was no reason for the creation of a quango, such as ARB formerly ARCUK,
when a professional chartered architects' body, RIBA, was already in existence.
- When the Warne Report was published in 1993, its principal recommendation was abolition of ARCUK. This recommendation was ignored and instead it was tranformed into ARB.
The Farrell Review, commissioned by the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, just out in March 2014, recommends the abolition of ARB with its functions taken over by the RIBA
- Abolishing ARB would bring the UK in line with most European countries which have only one statuary professional body.
ARB undermines the independence of the profession preventing it from fulfilling its role of providing a professional service to clients and the public at large. The duplication of Codes of Conduct is incomprehensible to both public and architects.
Architects have no democratic say in ARB and the fees it charges (as for instance its arbitrary and unwarranted decision to make the deadline for payment 31 December as opposed to March of the following year as before).
- The dangerous ambitions of this quango were revealed a few years ago when it sought to take control of architectural education from the RIBA
- The RIBA as the single democratic professional body in the UK will take over all the functions of ARB - except disciplinary proceedings [see below].
- I will advocate protection of function for buildings over 170 m2 (as in France). That is, anyone proposing to build a building or extension comprising over 170 m2 will, by law, have to engage an RIBA member.
This protection will enable the profession with greater certainty to deliver
the high standards of care it aspires to.
Protection of function will enable architects to earn salaries commensurate with their training and responsibility. Currently UK architects' salaries are at a derisory level. This must discourage many talented individuals from entering the profession so damaging the profession and the service it can offer
to the public
The cost of university education for a five year course deepens the problem
Lack of protection of function must contribute to the number of reprimands, fines, and suspensions listed on ARBs site here
- I will propose a review of the present and future role of architects in the building process to report to members in order to better define the role the architect in the future and the architect's position in the building team.
- I will push for engagement with the public, especially with groups that have declared interest in architecture and planning (eg Civic Socities).
- Make the office of RIBA President a fully salaried, full time, position for its two year period.
Thus the President will be able to take a full sabbatical from his or her normal position.
This change will attract the best candidates.
- Restructure the permanent administrative staff at HQ to allow the President to run the Institute in conjunction with the RIBA Board for the benefit of RIBA members, and the professional values and the public.
The new hierarchy at RIBA HQ will put the President at the top, performing the role Chief Executive.
The 1971 Act specifies that "The Council shall appoint an officer who shall be the principal executive officer of the Royal Institute Permanent staff... ":
It is unacceptable that non-architect, non-member, non-professional employees of our institute decide how members' fees are spent and allocated.
This 1971 stipulation will be challenged as unreasonable, interfering, illegal and detrimental to a professional body performing its function and serving the public interest.
- Change the culture of HQ permanent staff to remind them of their primary role in serving the members, the profession and its role in serving the public.
- Thoroughly investigate all aspects of RIBA expenditure and staffing and rationalise the use of resources to the benefit of all RIBA members and their professional aims and their ability to fufil their duty to the nation at large
- Carry out a thorough ongoing surveys and scrutiny of RIBA registered schools of architecture
- Establish teaching guidelines to make sure architects are being trained to serve the architectural practices, professional values, clients and the public at large
- Promote vigorously the use of open design competitions (not closed practice selection competitions), especially as a means for young new practices to develop.
- The current game of musical chairs of established architects as alternatively judges and competitors to be ended
- Campaign to abolish the use of design panels by planning officers.
These are used as a means of asserting undue pressure on layman committees and are contrary to the spirit of planning legislation and of democracy.
- Abolish the quango, CABE, as being a redundant, unwarranted and harmful interference with professional advice that pits RIBA member against RIBA member.
No panel member at the quango, CABE, can be deemed to have special insight that qualifies them to judge RIBA members’ work, make recommendations or to meddle in the democratic planning processes laid down by law.
COMMUNICATIONS WITH MEMBERS
- The RIBA Journal is not a commercial magazine but is delivered to a captured clientelle. The President should have more editorial control over the Journal to ensure that it addresses fully his or her concerns for developing the profession.
- Change the remit of the RIBA emailed newsletters to allow publicity to any event run by RIBA members
(Currently the newsletters have a rule that they publish only events run by the RIBA itself or the permanent staff – so priority is currently given to permanent, non-architect, staff over RIBA members whose events are automatically refused publicity, except in rare cases).
- Put concern for the environment and natural resource issues at the centre of architectural practice and education
- Support the development of regional RIBA branches
- Encourage contact with similar institutions abroad particularly in the European Union and harmonise professional principles
- Take over ARBs role of coordination with EU architectural institutions and regulations
- Foster professional and educational links with like bodies overseas (which a non-architect lead quango like ARB cannot do and has no incentive to do).
- To allow complaints against members’ conduct, replace that function of ARB by establishing an independent Ombudsman employing non RIBA members funded by the government with a contribution from the RIBA
- The Ombudsman to be briefed to examine complaints against all types of RIBA members and practices not mainly small practices as ARB currently does. See
As described above, protection of function will reduce complaints and better ensure professional standards are maintained
- Campaign for project insurance (as in France) - not practice insurance as now
This will avoid the "long tail"
of responsibility the current practice insurance produces
It will assess insurance project by project and so architects using tried and tested forms of construction will not be forced to subsidise claims on the more risky innovative forms as they are now
RIBA BUILDING AT 66 PORTLAND PLACE
- Give preferential or free rates to RIBA members wishing to use meeting rooms at 66 Portland Place (at present they pay standard rate except for official RIBA events organised by the permanent staff)
- Focus the use of the building on representing the profession and its contribution to the culture and the public and away from the current sterile “up for rent” ambience.
- Use the superb exhibitions spaces to promote members' work as well as exhibitions from outside bodies whose aims are not contrary to those of the RIBA
- Keep the British Architectural Library (usually referred to as the RIBA Library), open at all times, so that the building is open, for the benefit of members and researchers.
The library was established in 1837 upon the founding of the institute with donations from members on the assumption that it would be available to all. Now, with over four million items, it is one of the three largest architectural libraries in the world and the largest in Europe.
The current management imposes very limited hours, pleading poverty of funds in a note hung on the entrance door. This is a disgrace and an embarrassment to a prestigious professional institute.
Furthermore, it suggests an enormously inefficient use of resources overall. It only requires a minimum of one member of staff to be present at the library during opening times.
That this world important heritage is kept locked and out of view for much of the time is petty-minded and philistine. This surely cannot correspond to the wishes of the members
I realise that this is a lengthy and ambitious programme and that there is a huge amount of initia to overcome.
But my appeal to you is on the justice of the case.
My election to RIBA Council will mean that these concerns will have a platform and a voice.
You can be sure that I will be relentless and determined in my advocacy of them.
I believe they will gain traction with the membership
If you will support me, simply reply yes to this email and I will send you the brief form to fill in with a stamped address envelope for you to return to me.
The form states: Candidate Peter Kellow is nominated for an Overseas Elected seat on the RIBA Council by
- Name ....
- Membership Number ....
- Address ....
That is all.
Thank you for taking the trouble to read this email
If you have any comments on the above or other concerns that you think I should address, please let me know
I look forward to receiving your help in improving our vital professional body
RIBA BA BArch
50 rue de la Marquette