Nigel Carrington and Portland Place locked in negotiations

Update: The RIBA issued the following statement this morning but has not responded to Building Design’s request for an explanation or further information.

The statement said, in full: ”Sir Nigel Carrington remains a member of the RIBA Board, however he has notified trustees that he will not be in a position to take up the chair in September 2020.”

The lawyer appointed to head up the RIBA’s new board is said to be on the verge of stepping down – before he has even taken up his post.


Source: PeteUAL

Nigel Carrington

Sir Nigel Carrington was appointed in April as the first chair of trustees after a long-awaited governance shake-up and was due to start in September.

Frantic negotiations are now taking place behind closed doors. It will come as an embarrassment to the RIBA which temporarily lost its other figurehead – president Alan Jones – after he stepped back at the start of the pandemic because of the fall-out from an extra-marital affair.

Building Design has been told Carrington made a presentation to members of RIBA’s governing council last week which caused some upset. They were said to have been unhappy with his suggestion that the board would be signing off strategy and policy in future.

The new board was established to make the RIBA nimbler after years of complaints that the 50-strong elected council was too unwieldy a body to run the institute.

However once architects realised a non-architect was to become the chair many were furious, describing it as unthinkable to have an architect running the Law Society.

Carrington is a lawyer by background who is also vice-chancellor of the University of the Arts London (UAL) and a former managing director of Formula 1’s McLaren Group. He was said by insiders to be the stand-out candidate.

One source said the reason for his departure could have more to do with the size of his in-tray at UAL since the covid-19 outbreak than a falling-out at Portland Place.

Carrington declined to comment when contacted through UAL last night and the RIBA had not responded at time of going to press.

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The board of up to 12 – whose other inaugural members include Jo Bacon from Allies & Morrison and Valeria Passetti, one of the five candidates for RIBA president, as well as several non-architects – will oversee the work of the executive team and work with them and council to formulate the RIBA’s strategy. The official announcement in April said that council would remain the most senior governance body, but with its fiduciary and trustee responsibilities moved to the board.

It comes at a tumultous times for architectural institutions, with the Arb losing its registrar and chairman within a few days of each other.

And yesterday Building Design reported that the director of the Architectural Association school, Eva Franch i Gilabert, had lost two no-confidence votes.