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Former Board Director and Architect, MJ Long passes (1939 -2018)

Fiona Mckay

mj long.jpg

AIA UK member and former board director MJ Long passed away on 3rd September.

MJ (as she preferred to be called) was a vibrant design focused architect. She was based in the UK since 1964, and with her late husband, Colin St John Wilson, designed the British Library. She latterly formed her own practice with Rolfe Kentish and they went on to design a number of museums and galleries including the fabulous National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, an extension to the British Museum, and the exquisitely detailed Pallant Gallery in Chichester. She also designed studios for a number of artists including R.B. Kitaj and Peter Blake.

Within the AIA UK, MJ was instrumental in organising one of the early Keynote lectures that featured Cesar Pelli, hosting building tours of her London-based projects, and contributing to student design charettes.

MJ had a life-long interest in education and she was generous with her time and experience in mentoring the younger generation of American architects living in the UK. Former MJ Long employee, and AIA UK member, Mark E. Breeze noted “MJ gave me my first architectural job, which was a huge leap of faith given I had no architectural training at the time. With calm warmth, incisive directness, quiet encouragement, and wonderful wry humour, MJ gave me strong foundations for not only how to practice, but also how to think architecture.  Her thoughtfulness, generosity, and rigor remain for all to experience in her works.”

MJ will be greatly missed.

Author: Lester Korzilius, AIA UK Board Member

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Reports from the Courts

Fiona Mckay


Beale & Co.’s regular round up of the court decisions of most interest to the design and construction industry from Andrew Croft and Ben Spannuth.  In this month's issue, they look at: 

  • A Scottish case considering liability for fitness for purpose and the limit of liability in respect of design under the NEC2 Engineering and Construction contract, which highlights the interaction between design obligations and workmanship obligations; and
  • A case introducing a new ground for seeking to resist enforcement of an adjudicator's where there is a real risk that any adjudication award would be dissipated by the claimant.

To read the full article, please click here

Written by: Andrew Croft & Ben Spannuth

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AIA A'18 Conference

Fiona Mckay

Emerging from the 7 Train into the new station at the base of Hudson Yards and its bevy of towers nearing completion, the enormous glass structure of the Javits Convention Center came into view. 

Yet, even the 170,000m2 Convention Center was not big enough to host all the sessions that kept all 26,000 attendees busy over the course of 4 days, and events spread to the conference wing of the Hilton and across to the New School auditoriums and campus.

They think it was the largest assemblage of AIA architects ever.

The keynote presentations were powerful.  David Adjaye headlined the first evening to a sold-out crowd at Radio City Music Hall sharing the breadth of his recent work, spanning from social housing, museum and civic projects in Harlem and Gwangju to high-end residential units in the heart of Manhattan.  His first hand account of the process, concepts and realization of the National Museum of African American History & Culture revealed the deeper meaning embedded in the project as far down as a considered approach to the emergency lighting within the screened facades.

For the second evening, Sheela Soogard spoke to yet another capacity crowd about the business of architecture.  Notable was her mention of offering best-in-class parental leave to attract and retain staff and the simple principle borrowed from The Dark Knight:  "If you are good at something, never do it for free".  


Being at my first National Convention left me in awe of the whirlwind of activity - business sessions for the running of the Institute; a trade show of building products spilling over what felt like acres on two different floors; International Region meetings with National staff; masterclass workshops, tours of new and old New York City – amid all the other wonderful distractions.  I confirm that Starbucks opens at 6am.

Throughout the event, I ran across US-practicing architects with international ties. The first morning, I sat by chance with an architect who had practiced in London before opening her own successful firm in New York. At the Emerging Professionals evening, I met architects from AECOM based in Virginia working on projects all over the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The nature of sharing international experience and working across borders is a vibrant aspect of the profession.

At the convention, the heads of the other global professional bodies of architecture were invited, from the Royal Institute of Canadian Architects close to home all the way to the Japan Institute of Architects. It is encouraging to know that the lines of communication are open between the organizations.

To anyone that has not yet attended the national convention, I recommend finding a way to attend next time.  The next convention has been announced for Las Vegas in 2019 and the call for presenters and peer reviewers is open

Written by: Alex Miller, AIA

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Find the Gap

Fiona Mckay


In big auditoriums when prominent architects give lectures the conversations are most often focused on their recent built work or current research projects and they do not always touch on the questions that young designers might have for their role models. How did you get where you are? When did you know it was time to set out on your own? How did you find mentors and work early on? Additionally, these may not be questions emerging professionals feel comfortable asking even the most open minded of employers.  For just this reason, the AIA UK has launched a round table series focusing on bringing together emerging professionals with leaders in the field to discuss in an intimate setting the pressing questions of young designers.

Shelia O’Donnell and John Tuomey kindly joined us for our first Ask an Expert session in May. Seated in a historic pub cellar in London, John and Shelia shared with us their belief in the importance of the first five years after graduation for young designers. For them their post graduate travel to see buildings by Palladio and Corbusier and their experience working for James Stirling shaped their understanding of practice. For example, at one point a group of A-team engineers showed up to work on a project but were so overly confident, having just completed a successful international project, that they didn’t properly address the architectural intent of the one they were being asked to consider by Stirling and his team. As soon as the engineers had left, without flinching, Stirling picked up the phone to the company and asked to be sent the B-team for the next meeting instead.  Stirling taught John and Shelia early on about tenacity and the prioritization of design that allowed Stirling’s company to complete its bold iconic buildings.


Communication is also key, John and Shelia stressed the need to speak clearly about architecture and design intent with all parties. For this attendee, it was refreshing to hear how they believe architects should find ways to communicate which can reach all audiences equally, from clients to contractors and other architects. Even complex architectural ideas can usually be expressed more simply and understood more clearly then they are. Language, both verbal and visual are essential to John and Shelia’s design process, whether it is speaking about a project when they are traveling together and finding names for its elements, or layering up graphic ideas as they draw though a plan or elevation.

In John and Shelia’s estimation the best designers are the ones who have an innate curiosity and stay engaged in the world. Their own curiosity extends to experimenting with design features on their own house which is continually evolving as well as to teaching and using academic spheres as a way of exploring new ideas. For example, the usefulness of models was a lesson John and Shelia learned from their first experiences teaching in the United States which they brought back with them and implemented in their European teaching studios.

One sensitive subject the two touched on was how much more difficult it is now to start a practice and that often smaller and younger firms are overlooked for work. In the current climate, even well-established firms like theirs may have trouble because the base requirements for practice size, income and number of similar projects completed is so stringent. They lamented that by today’s standards they may not be qualified to complete some of their most celebrated work. This contradiction is something they have been vocal about when speaking with institutional clients and urge anyone putting together competitions to consider it and recognize how this may be stifling the next generation’s rising stars and the future’s important buildings.

When John and Shelia started their own practice, they chose to move back to Dublin from London where they had been working.  It was in Dublin that they contributed to and benefited from a renewed cultural awareness in the city. They also became politically active in the community which led to some of their earliest projects. This opening up of the minds around them and the political will to create good designs was what enabled them to launch their brilliant careers. Their advice for young designers was to find “find the gap!”

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AIA UK Chapter Bike & Sketching Tour – Kent Coast

Fiona Mckay

   Margate Beckoning; Guide Ben O’Looney has Brought Us Almost There .     Photo Credit: D Fairhurst

Margate Beckoning; Guide Ben O’Looney has Brought Us Almost There . Photo Credit: D Fairhurst

Adding on perhaps only an additional mile or so (and ignoring some generous rounding up), it looks like the participants in this year’s annual AIA UK Bike Trip on 30 Jun 2018 earned at least 1 Continuing Education Credit for every 6+ miles of biking.  So – after battling vicious headwinds in relentless heat under a blistering sun – were the CEU points really worth 36 miles of knee pumping effort?

For the first mile or so, we walked our bikes through the pedestrian zone of the refreshingly unpretentious, historic town of Faversham.  There were unexpected pleasures in extensive vernacular architecture, a medieval market square (for some truly delicious bakery treats), a scattering of period buildings from the 16th century onwards, a fine church and an odd cast iron pump thrown in for good measure. The whole Faversham effect of bustling commerciality held hints of how parts of London might have looked before the Great Fire.  

   Tour Guide Ben O’Looney Adds Architectural Insight; Medieval Market (and Pump); 16th Century Inn.     Photo Credits: M Loring AIA, E Top

Tour Guide Ben O’Looney Adds Architectural Insight; Medieval Market (and Pump); 16th Century Inn. Photo Credits: M Loring AIA, E Top

The next miles started off innocently enough where the boat yards, warehouses and semi industrial buildings of Faversham petered out into a rural backwater.   Then, we got thoroughly lost trying to find a route to Whitstable and the going got rather rough.  For some time without a GPS signal, we meandered through fields of bizarre, unidentifiable weed crops, plagued by leg-attacking nettles and clothes-grasping blackberry vines - the usually benign English countryside in apparent rebellion.

   Faversham Trading Warehouse; Lost on the Way to Whitstable.     Photo Credits: M Loring, A Pohl

Faversham Trading Warehouse; Lost on the Way to Whitstable. Photo Credits: M Loring, A Pohl

Eventually, we made it to the village of Graveney by a series of rolling, rural roads.  The Graveney Church proved to be that rare treat – a village church untouched by Victorian or modern interventions. 

   Out of the Sun into Graveney Church.     Photo Credit: D Fairhurst, M Loring

Out of the Sun into Graveney Church. Photo Credit: D Fairhurst, M Loring

However, biking the next miles from Graveney to Whitstable was a less than salubrious, hard slog as the weeklong heatwave brought out every stray motorist in the area looking for beach relief via normally tranquil, deserted roads.   Despite a look-in at Whitstable’s heritage and harbour, morale was lowering – that flat tire on the way had not helped - until we reached the haven of the Hotel Continental for drinks, gourmet lunch (fresh oysters!), swimming and sketching.

   F1 Calibre Teamwork; Waiting in Whitstable with Beer, Oysters and Sketchpads.     Photo Credit: M Loring, L King

F1 Calibre Teamwork; Waiting in Whitstable with Beer, Oysters and Sketchpads. Photo Credit: M Loring, L King

   Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business

Well-fed, rested and with morale restored, the level miles from Whitstable – punctuated with picturesque beach huts - flew by until we reached Herne Bay, where the seaside ambiance, a clock tower and pavilion gave us a further architectural boost. 

   Herne Bay Architecture in all Types and Sizes.     Photo Credit: C Musangi; J Sturt

Herne Bay Architecture in all Types and Sizes. Photo Credit: C Musangi; J Sturt

By the late afternoon with increasing headwinds, some of us were flagging again, but the miles from Herne Bay to Birchington along the coastal Viking Trail beckoned with undeniably spectacular potential.  So, with sea gulls dive bombing us from above, wind farms twirling in the distance, beach huts basking in the forefront and the Romanesque towers of Reculver enticing us ever onwards, we persevered. 

   From a Distance, a Shipping Landmark; Up Close, a Biking Milestone.     Photo Credit: M Loring, E Top

From a Distance, a Shipping Landmark; Up Close, a Biking Milestone. Photo Credit: M Loring, E Top

There was a convenient train station at Birchington, but group pressure kept us focused.  The advance of late afternoon lengthened shadows, while the extraordinary visibility foreshortened distances.  Was that Margate just around the next headland or just a mirage?

No - there were still a few miles and a multitude of strangely stunted, ruin-pocked, white cliff headlands to round before arriving at the real Margate.  Margate’s architectural landmarks included (inter alia) a modern Chipperfield gallery, Dreamland’s scenic railway and a lovely, welcoming Beaux Art train station – with a very convenient timetable for London bound trains.  After a long day in the saddle, we had reached our destination.

   The White Cliffs of Margate; End of the Road.     Photo Credit: C Musangi, E Top

The White Cliffs of Margate; End of the Road. Photo Credit: C Musangi, E Top

So – in answer to that overriding question ‘were the CEU points really worth 36 miles of knee pumping effort’?  The short answer is – of course – ‘yes’.  Or, as one participant described it succinctly ‘it was fun’, although – admittedly - there were a few knee protests on Sunday morning.

Many thanks to our tour guide, Ben O’Looney for another exciting Kent adventure filled with architectural insights and scenery to wonder at.


Written by: Lorraine D King AIA

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AIA International Region Annual General Meeting

Fiona Mckay

The AIA International Region Annual General Meeting was held on June 21st, 2018, at 2pm in Room 1A04 of Jacob Javits Convention Center during the 2018 AIA Conference on Architecture, A’18, in New York. The meeting covered the following items:

  • AIA IR Board of Directors Annual Report
  • Election of the AIA International Region Secretary 2019-2020.
  • Component Reports (International Region Chapter updates)
  • New Business

The current Directors of the AIA IR Board are as follows:

  • President, Thierry Paret, FAIA (2018-2019)
  • Vice-President, Lester Korzilius, FAIA ( 2018-2019)
  • Secretary, Sherif Anis, AIA (2017-2018)
  • Treasurer, Loay Quota, AIA (2018-2019)
  • Past President, James Wright, FAIA (2018-2019)

The AIA International Region (AIA IR) is the nineteenth Region of the Institute. It is approximately the same size as nine others and considerably larger than at least three others. The AIA IR is still growing, while many other regions are shrinking. There are currently 2,387 verified members with 300-600 additional lapsed/potential members.

The current AIA IR Membership was reported as follows, the numbers below reflect the total number of full AIA members in each chapter and do not consider other membership categories:

  • AIA United Kingdom - 155
  • AIA Continental Europe - 208
  • AIA Hong Kong - 269
  • AIA Japan- 75
  • AIA Middle East - 346
  • AIA Shanghai - 116
  • AIA Canada - 401
  • AIA Unassigned Members - 817

Last year the AIA IR transitioned from a zone-based organisation to representational Board seats. Each International Region Component Chapter has a representative on the AIA IR Board. Etain Fitzpatrick, AIA is the AIA UK’s 2017-2018 Chapter Representative. The full list of AIA IR Chapter Representatives can be found here.

President, Thierry Paret highlighted some of the main goals and initiatives of the AIA IR. He emphasized that the AIA IR Board is the voice of its members to the AIA and noted the importance of representing the interests of overseas members as the Institute examines its governance structure. The AIA IR encourages global growth of the AIA through the establishment of new off-shore chapters. The latest International Region Chapter established was AIA Canada. The AIA IR also connects global unassigned members, who do not have chapter representation, with the AIA.


AIA International Region Conferences and Design Awards

The AIA IR educates through symposia and conferences and promotes excellence in design through its annual design awards program. Last year’s AIA International Region’s Conference was held jointly with AIA Continental Europe in Prague last October 2017.

The AIA International Region’s 4th Annual Design Awards ceremony were held on October 7, 2017 at Lobkowicz Palace, Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic. The winning projects were also exhibited at the Rizzoli Bookstore from 21st-23 June during the A’18. The AIA International Region Design Award 2018 submission deadline is August 25th 2018.

The 2018 AIA International Region Conference will be held in Singapore from Nov 2-4, with an optional 3 day extension to Bali. Speakers to include Jamie Von Klemperer, FAIA, President & Design Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and Illya Azoroff, AIA, founding principal +LAB architect PLLC & Associate Professor, New York City College of Technology (CUNY), a leader in disaster mitigation, resilient planning strategies and design.

AIA International Region Goals 2018-2019

The goals for the Region include:

  • Increase corporate sponsorship
  • Advance the proposal to retain a strategic growth consultant—understand trends such as where our future members are coming from.
  • Finalize agreement with NAAB regarding substantial collaboration
  • Revision of by-laws to include the addition of an AIA Assoc. position to IR Board.
  • Finalize a voting process to select the next AIA IR representative to the College of Fellows
  • Explore the possibility of having part time administrative staff, currently the AIA IR has no paid staff.
  • Work with National on developing IR  “sections” in unassigned regions to allow for limited activities to occur

AIA International Practice Committee Advisory Group

The AIA International Region has monthly conference calls with the AIA International Practice Committee Advisory Group (IPCAG). The IPCAG serves U.S. based AIA members with international practice matters, while the AIA IR serves AIA members living outside of the U.S. The IPCAG have produced the AIA Global Practice Primer to guide architects who are pursuing projects abroad or are already engaged in international work. The primer features a ‘wealth of first-hand knowledge and expertise on international projects.’ Bea Sennewald, AIA is one of the members of this this group. Bea is long-standing member of the AIA UK Board and 2006 Chapter President.

AIA International Region Treasurer’s Report

Loay Quota, AIA, AIA IR’s Treasurer, presented an analysis of the 2017 revenues and expenditures and the 2018 projected expenditures. Most of the AIA IR’s revenue comes from sponsorship and most the region’s expenditure is on the events and awards program. The travel expenditure for 2018 has been increased from the 2017 budget. The AIA IR’s expenditure’s continues to outweigh the revenue. So, the region’s goal over the coming year is to increase revenue through expanding attendance to conferences, events and participation in the award’s program and continuing collaboration with sponsors.


AIA International Region Election Secretary 2019-2020

The AIA IR held it’s election for the position for AIA IR Secretary, 2019-2020. Greg Yager, AIA, from AIA Shanghai, was the uncontested candidate. Therefore, in this instance voting was a formality, however, votes must still be processed, followed by an official announcement. The AIA IR would like to encourage more member participation for AIA IR Board Director positions in the future.

AIA International Region – Component Reports

Each of the seven International Region chapters gave a summary report of their chapter’s activities over the past year. Alex Miller, AIA, AIA UK’s Chapter President presented the AIA UK’s Chapter 2017/2018 events. The AIA UK has a strong events program that always receives admiration from our international colleagues. It was inspiring to hear the each of the chapter’s events, initiatives and challenges. There were many interesting ideas, some of which we could help influence the AIA UK’s events program moving forward.


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