Round-up of reaction from the profession

Alan Jones

Source: Shaun Greene

Alan Jones

Architects welcomed Alan Jones’ victory in the RIBA presidential election. But they warned that issues raised in the contentious election campaign demonstrated the scale of the task facing him.

The Northern Irish architect and academic will take over from Ben Derbyshire in September 2019 after a year as president elect.

Jonathan McDowell, director of Matter Architecture, said: “While we welcome Alan’s election, the turnout still shows the huge task he faces to make the president’s leadership role really important to the profession.”


Earle Arney, chief executive of Arney Fender Katsalidis, said there was plenty for the new president to get his teeth into.

He said: “I expect Alan Jones will want to calmly take stock after what was one of the most tumultuous elections that surely anyone can remember.

“Although sensational in places, it brought out many issues that the RIBA must respond to, or at least put forward a better case in its defence and set out how it will address issues such as diversity.

“It may be that the RIBA is misunderstood and is doing much more on the inside than its members know, but then that only proves that it must nurture the relationship with its members and be more transparent.”


Sasha Bhavan, director of Knox Bhavan Architects, said: “We are delighted to hear that Alan Jones will be our next president.

“Alan’s agenda for the RIBA offers us as a small to medium-sized practice the possibility of a professionally supported, sustainable, structured, economic future.

“We particularly welcome Alan’s initiative for young people entering the profession, to increase the opportunity for social mobility as well as promoting ethnic and gender opportunity.

“As a profession we must ensure that the practice of architecture does not sink back into being the elite ‘gentleman’s profession’ of the 19th century, only available to those who can afford it.”


John McRae, director of Orms, said: “It’s great news that Alan has been elected as the next president from a strong list of candidates. Change is afoot at the RIBA and it’s imperative that this continues in a collaborative, discursive and energetic manner.

“I am keen to see how Alan’s experience of bridging academia and practice can help the profession assess our current skills and redefine our future within construction and development.

“It seems to me that we are at a key juncture in the role of the architect and that the next generation needs our support more than ever. I believe there are exciting times ahead.”


Ross Hutchinson, principal of Hutchinson & Partners, said: “Alan stood out as having the clearest understanding of the key issues facing the profession and the action that needs to be taken to address these issues. His aims and ambitions to protect, promote and champion the profession at this critical time resonated strongly with myself and the practice and clearly with others in the architectural community.”

Neil Armitage, partner at Re-Format, said: “Alan Jones was my preferred choice. Having read the candidates’ statements it was only Alan who appeared to respond to the day-to-day issues that impact on our practice.

“Too often the candidates aspire to generalised worthy transformations of the architectural profession that are ultimately unachievable in practice.

“Alan’s stated ambition to take a strong stance against onerous contracts and wasteful procurement processes resonated with me. If he can instigate a transparent and wide ranging debate into the ‘murky world’ of commissioning architects and contractors then there’s a chance that quality design will become more prominent in the decision-making process.”


Simeon Shtebunaev, student rep on RIBA Council and co-vice president for students and associates, welcomed Jones’s experience in academia and as vice president of the RIBA education committee, saying it gave him a good understanding of students’ needs.

“I am looking forward to working with the president elect to improve the offer the institute provides to a third of its membership,” he said.

“We are the only major professional institute without a students and graduates network and I hope the new president will be supportive of the establishment of such an initiative.”

His fellow Council student member Abigail Patel said: “Alan’s engagement with the regions during his presidency campaign was very encouraging and I hope we, as student and associate representatives, can engage with him in progressing our initiatives to increase student representation across regions and establishing the institutes much needed student/graduate network.”

Alan Wright of BPTW Partnership said: “There is a significant gap between architecture education and professional practice. We support the positive work by Ben Derbyshire regarding changes to the affordability and method of architectural education and would like to see this continue.

“We welcome the new architecture apprenticeship scheme, though are concerned that only the larger practices of over 250 employees will be able to fully embrace and fund the programme. We hope to see this being addressed by Alan Jones over the next year.”

Current RIBA president Ben Derbyshire said: “Congratulations to Alan Jones on the vote of confidence he has received from our members. I look forward to supporting him in the role both as president elect and after I’ve passed on the baton next year.

“To be chosen as RIBA president is a tremendous honour and responsibility, representing the collective strength and talent of our 43,000 members and 300 staff in a leading role to advance the profession of architecture.

“The RIBA has an exciting future and I hope I can rely on Alan’s support during my second year in office as we continue to push the institute’s ambitious programme forward.”

Alistair Barr, chariman of Barr Gazetas, said: “Although this RIBA election was ‘unusually eventful’, only 19% of members could be bothered to vote. Every RIBA member I know likes to whinge about the institute and every candidate wants to increase member engagement. I say you can’t complain unless you voted. If members can’t be bothered to vote then I despair for the future of the RIBA as a relevant organisation. We did not have to turn out in a heat wave or torrential rain; only had to click on screen. 

“Alan Jones’ presidency will be a success if he can raise members from their apathy ‎to be properly involved in our professional body.”

Stephen Smith, director at Spratley & Partners, said: “The RIBA seems to be dealing with many difficulties from the outside looking in. The priority must be dealing with the accusations put against it. It should be at the forefront of inclusive and progressive employment and a beacon for practices to look to for guidance. This has been lacking. The RIBA and Arb need to do more to to identify how they can assist architects with the upcoming Brexit transition and encouraging the next generation to take up the profession, perhaps with shorter time in university to help with the growing burden of tuition fees, and more time gaining experience.”

Chris Dyson, founding principal at Chris Dyson Architects, said: “Alan is a good architect and will I’m sure stand up for good design and all that entails. His tenacity in achieving the presidency is impressive.

“I hope Alan will open up the RIBA and the profession to increase our relevance and value in society, as have our recent batch of presidents. The term is short so needs to build on the best of the past to be effective.

“The building at Portland Place also needs to become a members’ facility, perhaps learning from other successful clubs in London, providing affordable overnight accommodation, food, a bar and exhibition facilities for its regional members. Make it a hub of activity that raises the profile of its membership.”

Jones: ‘We must unite for the sake of profession’

Alan Jones called for a united front as the profession worked for greater recognition.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones

He said: “I am honoured to become the next president of the RIBA and wish to thank everyone who supported me, engaged with the election process and took time to vote.

“I appreciate respect is not given lightly and must be earnt. I am hugely grateful for the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Ben Derbyshire and past presidents, people who I have huge respect for. I wish to build on their successes.

“The RIBA is a fantastic organisation with great resources, particularly its staff who I am keen to support more than ever.

“As individuals and as an institution we need to come together to make the most of our assets, and make the case for our profession.

“We need to gather evidence and realise a more significant role and position in business and society. We must focus more on the pertinent issues that will increase the quality of service we provide and the added value we can bring.

“We must reduce our overheads and the loss of colleagues and expertise as they leave our profession because of the economics of our situation. Talent is universal and opportunity into and upward through our profession must be too.”