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Grassroots 2018 – San Diego

Fiona Mckay

 Photo credit: James M Wright, FAIA

Photo credit: James M Wright, FAIA

The AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference offers opportunities for leaders from every AIA chapter – local, state and regional, domestic and international – to gather and learn from each other's diverse experiences. This year’s conference was held in sunny San Diego, California over three busy days in mid-March. The theme of the conference was ‘Leading through Influence,’ a topic explored through the celebration of the work of many chapters and architects striving to get a seat at the table to maximise their impact on the built environment. Our chapter, the AIA UK, joined the other international chapters at the annual International Region Meeting, a particularly memorable moment as we were able to celebrate both the launch of the new Canadian chapter, and the presence of all 7no. international chapters represented at the table. We discussed further strengthening bonds between our chapter and our sister chapter in Europe, as well as shared lessons learned particular to how chapters operate in an international context.

As the AIA UK representative at the conference, I was able to attend sessions that focused on strategic development, emerging professionals and diversity and inclusion, each offering insights key to the growth of our chapter. The keynote speeches were broad ranging, from Jonathan Rose’s talk on design-led development, to William C. Taylor’s provocations to experiment and innovate, to Marcia J. Cantarella, Ph.D.’s reminder that the keynote speech her father, civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr, gave in 1968, ‘rights as true now as it did then.’ More than the keynote lectures, what I found so inspiring about the conference was the enthusiasm that everyone I met had not only about their role in the AIA and the AIA’s role in architecture, but for the practice of architecture itself and our roles as individuals in that practice. For this reason alone, I would encourage those of you that can, to endeavour to attend next year’s Grassroots Conference – I walked away with double the energy and motivation to improve our chapter and the profession.

Written by: Amrita Raja, AIA

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AIA Continental Europe Conference on Architecture and Urbanism Pristina, Kosovo / April 5-8, 2018

Lorraine D King, AIA

  Photo Credit: Arild Vågen/Wikimedia Commons/File

Photo Credit: Arild Vågen/Wikimedia Commons/File

Pristina? Prishtina? You must play with the spelling a bit to generate a full list of flights to the city, only to find that - although the list is long - there is no easy route. Well, yes, there is a 6:00am direct flight from Luton that does not exactly appeal, and then it does not go or return every day either. There are direct flights from Frankfurt and Vienna and a few other places as well, but these all involve long waits for connecting flights.

So - anyone wanting to attend AIA Continental Chapter’s Spring Conference in Prishtina (as the locals write it), Kosovo had to make a special effort to visit what is billed as Europe’s youngest country. Politically, it declared independence from Serbia in 2004; demographically, it boasts a population that is “50% under 25 and 70% under 35”.

Although Prishtina has a long history of Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Yugoslavian domination, its most recent incarnation as the capital of Kosovo starts in 1999 after the intensive war with Serbia. The war eventually brought support from NATO and the European Union, although there are still several countries that do not recognise Kosovo as a sovereign nation.

While Prishtina does not have the immediate charm of Continental Europe’s other more recent conference cities – Barcelona, Girne, Menton, Prague – it faces challenges that any architect or city planner would find interesting, if not daunting.

  Photo Credit: Lorraine D King AIA – The Mother Teresa Way at the Heart of Prishtina

Photo Credit: Lorraine D King AIA – The Mother Teresa Way at the Heart of Prishtina

The first impression of Prishtina was one of polite chaos. Or, as the current Continental Europe Chapter President, Carsten Hanssen, Int’l Assoc AIA, put it – “It’s like a gigantic tornado cleared a path down the main pedestrian way and just scattered all the buildings.”

But then, the other side of that first impression was an eventual awareness that the city’s raw exuberance, freedom and freshness was fully in keeping with its youthful population. All the conference participants agreed that the city was highly likable – a vindication for those that made that extra travel effort to attend.

The mayor of Prishtina, Shpend Ahmeti, spoke of the abrupt change from the totalitarian planning controls of the pre-1999 communist regime to the neo-liberal free-for-all afterwards. One result of this was a turning away from public spaces towards private enterprise and family spaces. This – and a sudden population influx - had a negative impact on the city planning, leaving as he admitted “ugly buildings without context”.

One startling fact was that in the past 19 years there have been only 1,000 official planning permits issued while at the same time there have been 46,000 illegal building efforts. The “left-over 1970s city” is now seeking a new identity and a European future – one hopes with better international transport links.

Events of the Conference included (inter alia):

  • A presentation by Perparim Rama, from the London based architectural firm 4M Group - highlighting his work in Kosovo.
  • A presentation and visit to the 1986 National Library, designed by Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjaković – exploring Kosovo’s love it or hate it iconic centrepiece inside out and topside down.
  The National Library Impressive - Even on a Rainy Day

The National Library Impressive - Even on a Rainy Day

  From the Inside Out,   Photo Credits: Lorraine D King AIA

From the Inside Out, Photo Credits: Lorraine D King AIA

  • A presentation on preserving cultural heritage – saving the country’s vernacular Kullas, 90% of which were targeted and destroyed in the war with Serbia.
  • A presentation and visit to the Model Green School, by URBAN PLUS, Ilir Gjinolli - explaining not only the design features, but how the local children took part in the design process, eventually showing their appreciation of the results by liberally covering it in outbursts of colour and form.
  Photo Credit: Lorraine D King AIA - Local Children Express Their Exuberance

Photo Credit: Lorraine D King AIA - Local Children Express Their Exuberance

  • A walking tour of the city led by Bekim Ramku - pulling the pieces into historic perspective.
  • A visit to the now semi-derelict Youth and Sports Centre - built during Yugoslavian times by donations from Prishtina’s citizens.
  Photo Credit: Lorraine D King AIA – Youth and Sports Centre, Neglected Icon from the Past

Photo Credit: Lorraine D King AIA – Youth and Sports Centre, Neglected Icon from the Past

  • A presentation by the mayor of the neighbouring Albanian capital Tirana, Erion Veliaj - continuing the discussion on the effectiveness of planning controls and explaining how he is transforming the city by focused intervention.

And there was much more, including a successful Student Design Charrette, involving students from local architectural schools. See here full conference details. The Conference organising committee was chaired by Bard Rama, Int’l Assoc AIA. Full attendance earned an estimated 17.5 Continuing Education Units.

The next Continental Europe Conference – Culture Along the Danube - will be in Budapest, Hungary from 27 to 30 Sep 2018. The Continental Europe Chapter extends rights to AIA UK Chapter members so that they can attend the conference at the same costs as its own membership.


Written by: Lorraine D King, AIA

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Reports from the Courts

Fiona Mckay

In our latest review of the court decisions of most interest to construction Andrew Croft and Simii Sivapalan look at two cases:

  • One case which highlights the need for clear and consistent drafting and held that a reference to a party having absolute discretion did not mean they could ignore the notice requirements for termination; and

  • Another which confirms the need to serve a pay less notice in relation to final or termination accounts as well as to interim payments.

To read the full article, please click here.

Written by: Andrew Croft & Simii Sivapalan, Beale & Co



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Case Studies in Licensure

Katharine Storr, AIA


On Monday the 5th of February, the AIA UK held a licensure workshop featuring case studies in the various paths to licensure and conversion from and into US architecture licenses. First Katharine Storr, licensed in New York State, presented the standard path to US licensure. There are three typical steps: education at a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited university, experience supervised by a US licensed architect and the six exams called AREs. She also introduced NCARB, National Council for Architectural Registration Boards, the organization that facilitates application for licensure in all the US jurisdictions. This route is the most straightforward and easiest for candidates who have studied in the US. Regarding proof of experience, it is important to know that for any candidate, no matter what type of experience reporting they choose to complete, there are minimums for how much of that experience must be supervised by an American licensed architect. The exams are self scheduled and administered in special proctored testing centres on a computer. There are only a handful of testing centres outside of North America and London is one of them.

Adelina Koleva, a current US licensure candidate in Illinois, who has recently taken several of the AREs, spoke about the updated exam format. ARE 5.0 was introduced in 2016 and consists of six standard exams that test for competency in topics across all project phases as well as practice management. Adelina walked the attendees through sample exam questions with the online practice exam available to candidates once they have registered via the NCARB website. For candidates studying in the UK, the AIA UK has a set of study Brightwood guides for the 5.0 AREs, sponsored by Kaldewei, which can be checked out from our library (email:


Nick Kehagias, licensed in both the UK and Connecticut, presented his case study in conversion from a US license to a UK license. Licensure in the UK requires the completion of a Part I (bachelor degree), a Part II (master degree) and Part III (a diploma in professional practice).  To become licensed in the UK, designers who did not study in the UK or the EU must do a degree “conversion” to prove their education has covered the same ground as a UK degree course would. The ARB, the Architects Registration Board in the UK is the organization which oversees this process. (For an understanding of the difference between the RIBA and the ARB please see an article by Lester Korzilius here.) The ARB first requires the candidates for conversion to prove they are eligible to sit an examination by showing they have sufficient architectural education. If they are eligible, then the actual examination consists of the preparation of a portfolio and an interview by a panel of examiners. The portfolio must present architectural projects (either academic or professional) and show how the experience combines to meet a complex set of criteria set out by the ARB. During the interview candidates will be asked questions about their portfolio and understanding of the British system. Nick’s general advice was that while conversion is possible, due to the arduous task of the portfolio preparation and the interview as well as the high fee, that anyone considering this path should be sure they are ready to take on all the steps.  

Ben Lee, licensed in Pennsylvania, presented the final path to licensure of the evening, converting from a UK or other foreign license to a US license. If the candidate is from a country which has “formal record keeping mechanisms for disciplinary actions” then they can submit a Credential Verification Form which proves to NCARB that the candidate is registered abroad. Then, they will be required to complete the experience and exams the way any other candidate would. If the candidate is not from a country with these record keeping mechanisms in place, then they must complete an EESA evaluation by sending their transcripts and descriptions of all their completed courses to NAAB.


Written by: Katharine Storr, AIA College of Fellows, AIA International Region

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Second Annual FAIA Dinner at the RIBA

Stephan C Reinke, FAIA RIBA


We were pleased to welcome some 60 guests to our Second Annual AIA International College of Fellows Dinner in mid December at the RIBA Headquarters on Portland Place. This convivial gathering followed an excellent and compelling lecture by Steven Holl FAIA. The lecture is an annual event expertly organised by Lester Korzilius FAIA and Amrita Raja AIA, with the RIBA.

Our CoF Dinner guests included Steven Holl and Charles Jencks, Honorary FAIA Members; Eva Jirinca, John Tuomey and Sheila O'Donnell, Sunand Prasad, Jack Pringle, Rod Hackney and Michael Wilford with Grimshaw and Ian Ritchie Architects.

We were also joined by RIBA CEO Alan Vallance, President Ben Derbyshire, Past President Jane Duncan, AIA IR Leaders Stephen Miller and Lester Korzilius and a number of UK FAIA Members and UK Chapter Directors. A great group for our second annual event with a lively discussion on the stewardship of our profession

The 200 plus Honorary FAIAs are a significant untapped resource. Our idea is to use major Chapter events in the AIA IR, to invite the many Honorary Fellows to “ get involved ” with our mentoring and life-long learning programmes. It was again a very special evening in the Edwin Landseer Lutyens Room at the RIBA, and our outreach programmes to engage these honoured valuable members of the AIA family.

Many thanks to Fiona McKay Hon AIA, our AIA UK Chapter Executive, for organising and managing this special AIA IR CoF event. Shueco and Erbay are our generous Patrons.


Written by: Stephan C Reinke FAIA RIBA, AIA College of Fellows, AIA International Region

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AIA UK X Armstrong Architecture Pub Quiz

Bea Sennewald, AIA


Do you know the difference between a morel and a morello? Or where you would find an architrave? Or even which body part is missing on a Manx cat? If you do, you might have won AIA UK’s pub quiz last November.

Six teams were battling for points through four tough rounds of questions helped by the odd sip of beer or wine. Bea and Laura belted out the questions cruelly, without the least hint or clue, no wonder everyone was scratching their heads and breathing hard. In the end the Boffins – who else – took first prize – a bottle of champagne. It was a terrific evening, the second annual pub quiz organised together with our sponsor Armstrong UK. As a surprise Armstrong drew lots for a special consolation prize – tickets to a Six-Nations Rugby Game. Make sure you don’t miss the quiz this year.

Written by: Bea Sennewald, AIA

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