Thursday17 August 2017

If Renzo Piano is not an architect…

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Arb’s request that foreign designers should not be able to use the word ‘architect’ is very bizarre indeed

Amanda Baillieu

Amanda Baillieu — editor in chief

There is no other word to describe Arb’s ban on calling Renzo Piano an architect except bonkers.

In fact so bizarre was the email that BD received asking us to desist referring to the Gold Medal and Pritzker Prize winner as an architect — and all other “foreigners” — we thought it was a hoax.

But there’s a more serious point, which is that architects are funding a body to do things it does not want or need.

Arb argues it is simply protecting the consumer, which is nonsense. It’s builders the public doesn’t trust, not architects. But, as this incident shows, Arb is more interested in concocting new areas to stick its oar in than helping the profession that pays its not inconsiderable salaries.

It is doubtful Ed Vaizey will abolish it, but if he wants the respect of UK architects as well as those now banned from describing themselves as such, giving it a good kicking would be a start.

In the meantime, BD will continue to refer to Renzo Piano, Daniel Libeskind and Peter Zumthor as architects — registered with Arb or not.


Readers' comments (22)

  • Wholly agree, Amanda. For architects they both are. And it's another compelling reason for reducing the size, remit and fees charged by ARB.

    One of several lamentable aspects of ARB's position is that they appear satisfied that a prefix such as 'Infrastructure' or 'foreign' indicates that the culprit is not pretending to be an Architect. Which rather begs the question whether they would chose not to pursue a genuine fraudster masquerading as an architect if he titled himself 'Design Architect' or 'Vision Architect'

    Protection of title is meant to protect the perception and status (ha!) of the profession in the public's eye, but since Piano is unlikely to dupe a small works client into believing that he is qualified to do house extensions, there is some serious lack of perspective within ARB.

    I have tended to feel that ARB have been given a hard time, but this episode has robbed them of a considerable amount of their credibility. And the grammatical errors in the correspondence reported elsewhere are simply shameful.

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  • kamichi

    Well done BD, stand up for the Daisy Frouds and Thomas Heatherwicks. We are all architects. Kevin McCloud is another.

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    Well done BD...let common sense prevail !

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  • Have any one of those three actually described themselves as an architect? Perhaps check your facts first.

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  • Why has the ARB picked on the BD? Are they now wasting our money writing to all other publications and publishers? It must be a hoax !

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  • kamichi

    according to BD, if you work in an office with an architect, everyone in that office can call themselves an architect

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  • Is there not a possible claim against the ARB for the misuse of title, as the ARB are not registered? Given their claim that Renzo Piano is not and architect, is there not a claim for professional incompetence against the ARB where the ARB would be obliged to justify their assertion to the use of title while requiring BD to not call Mr Piano by the same? Is this not clear abuse of title? Would the ARB be capable of proving competence against the incompetence of Mr Piano?

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  • Keith Tomlinson

    Well said Amanda. Unfortunately the ARB request was neither "Brilliant", nor "British", but just "Bonkers!!!"

    Unfortunately, in making such a CRASS request in such a clumsy, and inept way, the ARB has done it's cause (and ours) immense harm. I'm laughing and crying at the same time.

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  • Another question that came to my mind at least: Whereas this may not apply to Mr. Libeskind, Mr. Piano is in all likelihood a fully qualified architect in Italy, since he studied and then taught at the Politecnico di Milano. I may be wrong about this, but my understanding has always been that the rules of the EU mean that qualifications in one member states must be recognised in all others. Does the ARB stand above the law? Oh, and do their rules apply to dead people, too? That would be an interesting point, as it would mean that neither Mies van der Rohe nor Walter Gropius, neither le Corbusier nor Palladio were ever architects. A pity, really, considering how many loft extensions they could have done in their lifetimes.

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  • Well done BD!
    I think ARB is not "protecting its consumer" at all! What ARB has done is simply arrogance. I would think that perhaps from now on, people can not refer to a head of state of other country as prime ministers or presidents as they were not appointed by the Queen?

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