Pick your president

Voting opens on 4 July and the presidential candidates take to the road for election hustings around the country. We asked them about their top three policies while readers and members posed a few questions of their own

My big aim would be to make the nation as design conscious as the Danish. Good design isn’t a luxury - Andrew Salter

Andrew Salter
Andrew Salter

Andrew Salter has served six  years as an RIBA board member, alongside his conservation work at Oxfordshire-based Acanthus Clews Architects. 

What are your top three priorities?

First, to focus on connection: we do a lot in the RIBA but people don’t know what we cover. It is a communication issue. We also need to change the level of conversation so we are at the breakfast table and on the ipad.

Then to reinvigorate discussion. We need to get members’ alternative views out. There is a lot going on that is affecting architecture. Like frustrations around the planning process. Or plans to farm out listed building ­decision making. The speed and definition of members has to be used when responding to these. 

Lastly, to campaign for more skills training in industry. We need a more continental model with skilled journeymen. And within architecture upskilling and lifelong learning as a continuous process make for a dynamic profession.

Question Time

How will you support the next generation?

We need to ensure young architects are well informed through research, so they are ahead of industry. We can be weather forecasters of their practice. 

Good architecture has come to be seen by society as a luxury and non-essential add on to construction projects. How will you tackle that?

It is a terrifying thought. My big aim would be to make the nation as design conscious as the Danish. Good design isn’t a luxury. That is what the awards programme is about. I would also like to see more design-conscious thought in national  government. We should be putting infrastructure in place to allow more opportunities for diverse development. We need better ‘ordinary’, and to show design matters at a domestic level and in schools. We are all influenced by the environment we live in. 

How will you help RIBA to help architects to close the  building performance gap? 

We need much better modelling and research and to ensure architects have the right tools. We should be advising architects that the right sort of specialists and tools are available.


 

We are only as good as the graduates we are employing. If we optimise their potential we lay the ground for higher fees - Alan Jones

Alan Jones
Alan Jones

Belfast-based Alan Jones is a practitioner and educator and RIBA board member

What are your top three priorities?

First, to understand the needs of the profession. One third of RIBA members are not in traditional practice. ‘New’ practice is available; architects are working for design managers and contractors, even the Red Cross.  

Secondly, architecture and education. There has been a disconnect. Practice has been seen as a consumer of graduates, and has not been involved in leading education. We are only as good as the graduates we employ. If we optimise their potential we lay the ground for higher fees. The list of my nominators indicates confidence  that I will raise the merits of high quality architecture. 

Finally, we need to be leading regionally, nationally and internationally. I have been part of agreeing the strategic plan, Advancing Architecture. It sets the framework for RIBA activities. I have also been pushing for three year spending plans; we need to empower regions, nations and international chapters to create joined up thinking across the network.

Question Time

How will you support the next generation?

There are some very real issues. We need to make the RIBA more relevant. I will drive forward the review of architectural education and want to understand the emerging role of the architect, including Arb engagement. A big issue is salary and how that relates to practice earnings. 

Good architecture has come to be seen by society as a luxury and non-essential add on to construction projects. How will you tackle that?

By evidence-based design and communicating value. I want to help existing practices through research and looking at how you sell architecture. We need to be able to put our finger on this and show how it is achieved. And it is essential to show governments and cities. This is what the RIBA has to do. 

How will you help RIBA to help architects to close the building performance gap? 

This has to be tackled through the project team, from client to contractor. There needs to be honesty and a lot of motivating and explaining, right down to the site operative.


 

We have made the mistake as an institute of promoting expensive architecture - Ben Derbyshire

Ben Derbyshire
Ben Derbyshire

Ben Derbyshire, chairman of HTA Design, has spent 40 years in practice. He sits on the RIBA’s Communications Committee and is an experienced board member

What are your top three priorities?

I want architects to retake their institute and become its voice. All outputs should be reflections of what members are doing and saying. Not all architects will agree about everything, but it should enrich how architecture is seen.

Secondly, I want to make real progress on post-occupancy evaluation. I would like to see a service offering for clients that is understood by architects. For me it is really important and a way to understand how clients value our work. We need to build up research and our body of knowledge to become better remunerated.

Finally, we need to deal with inclusivity and exclusivity. It has come up in a negative way but it is an eminently realistic proposition to turn it around. We need a programme of positive initiatives. We can’t afford the RIBA to become a rich man’s club. That includes finding some positive new routes to qualification. 

Question Time

How will you support the next generation?

The RIBA has to become more aware of the architects who have switched off from it. We need a more loss leading offer for young architects. The RIBA should provide an arena where young practices can engage and share research. 

Good architecture has come to be seen by society as a luxury and non-essential add on to construction projects. How will you tackle that?

We have made the mistake as an institute of promoting expensive architecture, giving a sense of exclusivity and expense. We should be championing what we as practitioners are doing to add value to our clients’ businesses. Frank Lloyd Wright called it ‘poetry in the use of finite resources’, most architects understand that. Institute communications need to be more about what most practitioners are doing. 

How will you help RIBA to help architects to close the building performance gap? 

By promoting measurement and prediction of performance. 


 

Thanks for questions from Jonathan Hendry, founder of Jonathan Hendry Architects, Zoe Berman of The Projects Office and Fionn Stevenson, head of school at University of Sheffield, School of Architecture

Vote for your next RIBA president and council members before 8 August following instructions sent by post or email. Candidates’ personal statements and links to their websites are at architecture.com