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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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AIA UK Dublin City Excursion

Fiona Mckay


This year’s AIA UK City Excursion ventured farther afield than mainland UK, and ventured across the Irish Sea to Dublin, the capital city of the Republic of Ireland. The two-day weekend was jampacked full of a range of speakers and buildings, entitling attendees to a total of 12 Learning Units (7 HSW credits). We are very thankful to our sponsors TECHRETE for making this excursion possible with their generous contribution.

Saturday 8th September 2018

Royal Institute of Irish Architects (RIAI) - The weekend started in the beautiful Georgian headquarters of the RIAI.  Surrounded by the RIAI 2018 awards exhibition, the group gathered for a warm welcome by Kathryn Meghen, RIAI CEO.  She told us of the work that RIAI does for Irish architects and explained some of its current goals. The RIAI is focusing on educating members on business skills, lobbying the government and providing CPD for its members. The RIAI has 3,600 members and holds roles as both a professional organization and licensing registration board - so for example both the AIA and NCARB combined, or RIBA and ARB combined. She noted RIAI’s pride that Grafton Architects curated the 2018 Venice Biennale, entitled ‘Freespace’.  It was a great honor both for this talented firm and for Irish Architecture. To our delight, Meghen, generously provided the group with complimentary copies of the RIAI’s annual awards publications.

Ali Grehan - Dublin City Architect - Next, the Dublin City Architect, Ali Grehan, spoke about the history of Dublin and some of the challenges that the city faces today.  Dublin is 1,000 years old and in the 1700s was the second largest city in the British Empire. Dublin accounts for 55% of Irelands’ total GDP compared to London’s 23% of the UK’s total GDP. Almost overnight Dublin has become a multi-cultural city - something which has fortunately happened with little rancor.  Building affordable housing; improving disadvantaged schools; increasing sustainability; and decreasing the use of cars via pedestrian zones continue to be key challenges for Dublin.

PIVOT Dublin and AIA Centre for Communities by Design - Ali Grehan is also the founder of PIVOT Dublin which is an initiative driven by the need for better design in cities. She described Dublin’s Framework pilot project that has been inspired by a successful initiative run by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) called the Design Assistance Team (DAT), managed by the AIA’s Centre for Communities by Design in Washington DC.  Framework introduced the Design Assistance programme to test how it could work within the Irish context. The pilot is a collaboration between Dublin Council City Architects Division and the AIA, which is guiding the process. Ali challenged AIA UK to start other collaborations with this group. If anyone is interested in starting this initiative in London please get in touch!

Shane de Blacam - We left the RIAI to walk to Trinity College to meet Shane de Blacam, Partner at de Blacam and Meagher Architects, which was established in 1976.  Shane received his Masters Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970 and went on to work for Louis Kahn on the Yale Center for British Art.  Shane talked about the history of Trinity College and then on his work on the restoration and addition to its historic dining hall, which is at the heart of Trinity’s social life, and on the new build Samuel Beckett Theatre.  We then walked to Shane’s Wooden Building residential scheme on the edge of Temple Bar. Kahn’s influence is evident in Shane’s work; through it’s beautiful craftmanship, detailing and timelessness. Shane highly praised the American University education system - positive feedback which was lovely to hear from such a legend of Irish Architecture.

O’Donnell + Tuomey – Studio Visit and the Sean O’Casey Community Centre - Sheila O’Donnell, FAIA, and John Tuomey, FAIA, founding partners of O’Donnell + Tuomey generously invited us to visit their studio. John and Sheila discussed current and past projects and gave insight into their design process and collaboration. ODT currently have two significant projects in London – the Victorian & Albert and the Sadler Wells outposts - which they are designing as part of East Bank in Stratford under the Allies and Morrison master plan.

Dublin ODonnel Tuomey Studio MVIMG_20180908_135901.jpg

After the studio visit, we took the bus north across the River Liffey to the Sean O’Casey Community Centre in East Wall near the Docklands area. The building provides community resources, including a senior center, childcare and recreational facilities, a theatre and meeting rooms. The concrete tower element with its circular windows provides a strong identity for the building - which Sheila and John noted has become a key landmark for the community. The internal landscaped courtyard provides a tranquil and calm oasis. It is both a beautiful and functional feature of the building, often used by the children as an outdoor play area. A local resident worked with the landscape architects to ensure that appropriate plants were selected. The building has received numerous rewards and was shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) prestigious Lubetkin Prize for architecture in 2009. However, its biggest success is how the community has embraced this building as its own and it is obvious that it will flourish for many years to come.

Mairtin D’Alton – RIAI Docklands Walking Tour - Star RIAI tour guide Mairtin D'Alton led us on an informative and entertaining 90 minute walking tour of the Docklands. We saw many of the area’s highlights including the Samuel Beckett Bridge by Santiago Calatrava and the Docklands Convention Centre by Roche-Dinkeloo Architects at Spencer Dock. We looked at developments from the 1990s to the early 2000s. We walked across the East Link into Ringsend and finished in the Grand Canal Basin, stopping in front of the Liebeskind Theatre with public landscape design by Martha Schwartz. This termination point was also near the Charlotte Quay restaurant where we all enjoyed a fabulous dinner on Saturday night.

Sunday, 9th September

Aviva Stadium – Scott Tallon Walker Architects - After our 20,000-step day on Saturday, on Sunday morning we had a little respite from walking, as we boarded our coach for the day and headed towards the Aviva Stadium by Scott Tallon Walker Architects and Populous.  The stadium replaced the old beloved Lansdowne Road stadium, the oldest international rugby venue in the world.  The project began in 2005 and - after a lengthy approval process - was granted planning permission in 2007 and was completed in 2010.  Rebecca Ryan and Raeffala Roncoroni from STW along with two other members of the Aviva stadium staff led the group around an extensive building tour.  We saw everything in the building from BOH access routes, to the rugby team changing rooms, to the special VIP boxes and of course we were allowed entry onto the beloved, sacred pitch.  We appreciated the tremendous effort that the team put into this complicated project - from nestling the stadium into its residential surroundings to providing additional access. We were surprised just how much we liked the project with its attention to detail, the quality of construction and the fantastic atmosphere.

Bucholz McEvoy Architects - After our visit to the Aviva Stadium, we ventured south of Dublin to see two gem buildings by Bucholz McEvoy Architects.  Partner, Karen McEvoy, MRIAI, AIA, AKB, presented two projects - the Ballyogan Operations Offices and the Samuel Beckett Civic Campus. This small practice has made a big impact with their dedication to sustainable buildings in beautifully detailed packages and their work has been recognised with numerous awards. The two-storey timber framed Ballyogan Operations and Maintenance Depot is a low energy, naturally ventilated building that maximises passive energy sources and daylight. The architects designed everything within the building and used natural materials throughout. The building is situated on the site of the former waste dump for Dublin County that will become a park in future. We all wanted to work there!  Next, we saw phase 1 of the Samuel Beckett Civic campus, which provides community facilities, a gym and classrooms for public use. The architects designed a master plan for the community, which maximizes the use of green space for playfields, transforming a previously neglected space.

Kavanagh Tuite – GPO Witness History and Visitor Centre - In conceiving the programme of the two-day weekend excursion, I thought it was important for people to have a sense of the history of Dublin. So, the next stop was to the General Post Office Witness History and Visitor Centre, which was the site of the 1916 Rising which eventually led to Ireland gaining its independence from the British Empire and sent shockwaves through its colonies.  The building opened on the centenary in 2016. Partner Brian Kavanagh and Associate Fergal Ryan spoke of the importance and context of the building in Irish history and detailed process of the restoration of the building’s brickwork. The new build portions of the project are sympathetically inserted into the courtyard. After the presentation our group was able to walk around the Witness History exhibition, which occupies most of the basement level.

Heneghan Peng – National Gallery of Ireland - Last but not least, we visited the National Gallery of Ireland that has been recently refurbished by Heneghan Peng Architects. Partner Roisin Heneghan and Associate Director, Katarzyna Turza-Rachwal gave the group a detailed tour of the building. Their work entailed what they called ‘very detailed acupuncture-like work’ within the existing building fabric to provide environmental and lighting upgrades. Part of a two-phase master plan, the results are stunning. Externally, the project has achieved a more friendly and open face to the public and, internally, has led to the discovery of previously hidden spaces that enrich the visitor’s experience.

Next year please join us for our weekend excursion to Newcastle 2019. Also, based on the success of the Dublin trip the AIA UK and AIA Continental Europe Chapters will be co-organising a City Excursion to Cork in 2020.

Written by: Etain Fitzpatrick, AIA

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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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London Bloomberg Headquarters Building Tour

Fiona Mckay

Copy of Bloomberg 03.jpg

Bloomberg’s new European headquarters, occupying a full city block in central London, comprises two buildings united by bridges that span over a pedestrian arcade reinstating an ancient Roman road. The headquarters was completed by Foster + Partners. It has received much interest and we were diligent in our efforts to arrange for a tour of the building. Michael Jones a senior partner at the firm was our tour guide. He worked on all phases of the project and brought tremendous insight into his presentation.

The building design was sensitive to the context of the surroundings. The Cannon Street station is located across the street offers a thousand of people a minute. The site needed to respond to many activities. The site potential was actually much higher than was finally built. The client wanted the headquarters to only contain no other tenants but Bloomberg. The resulting structure was then designed to fill that need and created a highly sensitive contextual in response.

Copy of Bloomberg 01.JPG

Many innovations were pursued in the solution of the structure. Michael Jones described the design of the lighting, a desire for user interactions, the detail of workspace desks, environmental controls, sustainability and many others. The building has a BREEAM Outstanding rating and the highest design-stage score ever achieved by any major office development. Natural ventilation is introduced into the spaces through the large bronze-finish fins found on the exterior of the facade. The fins conceal the filters and mechanisms while also shading the adjacent windows -- minimising solar heat gain. The building in fully computerised and data is continuing to fine tune its operation. The toilets are a net zero water demand as stored rain water is used in their operation. Many technologies are utilised. It is easy to see how this building will be an exemplar for future designs.

The building received the 2018 Stirling Prize. It was an inspirational tour and the participants were equally inspired.

Written by: Lutz Barndt and Innocenzo Langerano

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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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