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Call for Nominations for 2019 AIA UK Board of Directors

Fiona Mckay

Call for Nominations for 2019 AIA UK Board of Directors

If you are interested in getting involved with the AIA UK Chapter, please consider nominating yourself for a position on the 2019 board of directors.

You are welcome to make nominations for the board of directors and the four officer positions. The officer positions are ideally held by a US licensed architects, but we will accept foreign licensed architects for nominations as well.

The only requirement for a board of director’s positions is enthusiasm and a willingness to help with events and other chapter activities throughout the year.

If you would like to nominate yourself or find out more about the board, please contact Michael Lischer, FAIA at

Nominations are due by the 26th of October.


The requirements for the AIA UK board membership are fairly relaxed. The AIA UK is run by volunteers and all of our events are organized by volunteers. Board members generally help with events and/or get involved in some aspect of chapter management. Positions include newsletter editor, continuing education coordinator, emerging professionals coordination, and events organization.

We have a very active chapter and there are usually a couple of events each month that need to be organized. We have four signature events each year that we organize. These are the Design Awards, Summer Gala, Student Design Charrette, and Keynote Speaker. New board members would not be expected to run events on their own, but help out with various chapter activities.

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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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ARB to Consider Reciprocity after Brexit

Fiona Mckay


For foreign-educated or foreign-licensed architects whose qualifications do not meet the EU Mutual Recognition requirements, the Architects Registration Board (ARB) 'Prescribed Examination' represents a significant hurdle in the path to licensure in the UK. In the absence of any reciprocity arrangements between the UK and countries outside of the EU, this case-by-case, evidence-based evaluation of qualifications is a process that all candidates must go through in order to obtain a UK recognised Part 1 or Part 2 qualification.

For some time now, the ARB has been responsible for administering the exam, gradually updating and modifying the process in response to examiner and candidate feedback. In 2018, the ARB has begun the consultation process for one such update, described as a 'Business as Usual Review,' that focuses on the administration of the exam, rather than the larger strategic questions that underpin it. Although the ARB had originally scheduled a broader strategic review of the entire Prescribed Examination process, this has now been delayed due to the exigencies of Brexit, and the resultant issues that the ARB must currently contend with. However, it is notable that the ARB is considering a broad scope review of the licensure process, which is likely to take place once the Brexit negotiations have concluded, leaving the door open for reciprocity to be re-considered.

Although this year's 'Business as Usual' review is necessarily limited in scope, it nevertheless provides an important opportunity to clarify and streamline the exam process for candidates, and this formed the core of the discussions at a recent round-table held by the ARB in their Weymouth Street offices in London (a similar event has also been held in Nottingham). The event was chaired by Teresa Graham and Rob Wilson, the ARBs registration executives, and was attended by current and former examiners, and students who have successfully passed the examination. The discussion addressed questions that were also made available in an extensive online survey on the ARB's website, and while there were a number of areas that were not within the scope of this review - eligibility requirements and the Graduate Criteria being the two main ones - the suggestions from attendees for improving the exam were constructive and included:

- Simplifying the comparative matrix and emphasising its importance in the exam submission, perhaps doing away with the written part of the matrix completely.

- Adding more (good and bad) portfolio examples to the ARB website, or describing in more detail what a successful portfolio might look like.

- More clarity on the website about how to put together a successful portfolio, emphasising the importance of mapping to the criteria clearly.

- The possibility of 'pre-interviews' to ensure that candidates who are not exam-ready avoid paying the fee.

- The possibility of a template on the ARB website that helps candidates by showing them how to arrange work, map it to the graduate criteria and explain how their work meets the criteria.

- Limiting the number of pages of the portfolio submission to minimise the work required both to produce it and to examine it.

- Moving to an optional online submission process to minimise the cost of printing.

- Moving to two examiners instead of three in order to reduce the cost of the exam and make the interview less stressful for candidates.

- More clarity for graduates of RIBA-accredited programs outside the UK and an explanation of why they need to sit the ARB exam.

- Further ways that the ARB can ensure the exam is accessible for those with special needs.

The above list is not exhaustive, nor does it come with any guarantees of implementation, but it does highlight the types of issues the ARB is considering relative to the Prescribed Exam. For those thinking of sitting the exam, it was heartening to hear the ARB acknowledge its difficulty and complexity, and see the seriousness with which it approaches the task of simplifying and streamlining the process for candidates. As the ARB's Registration Executives, both Rob Wilson and Teresa Graham are keen to improve the process, and are very happy to personally answer queries and comments from anyone considering taking the exam.

If the ARB brings this level of thoroughness and thoughtfulness to future reviews of the paths to licensure, including the recognition of qualifications, then candidates may at least feel confident that their struggles are recognised and that the ARB is working hard to clear an easier path forward.

Written by: Nicholas Kehagias, AIA 

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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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