RIBA Needs a Doctor Picture 1

BD's editor, Thomas Lane, endorses Ben Derbyshire's #ArchitectsLeading' prescription for the RIBA:

The row over institutional racism at RIBA is the latest sorry tale of a dysfunctional organisation in self-destruct mode.....

Many are concerned about this state of affairs including RIBA council member Ben Derbyshire, who wrote to his fellow councillors in October calling for clear cultural change at RIBA. Derbyshire called for architects to determine the direction of RIBA rather than the executive and suggested it offered more support to architects and gave them a voice.

Derbyshire is on to something here. The British Medical Association, the professional organisation for doctors, is proof his suggestions could work. Like RIBA, this is supported by members with an annual fee and a national council. Like architecture, the registration and regulation of doctors is handled separately by an independent body. Here the similarities end. The BMA council sets policy which is informed by the needs of practicing doctors, an approach that works. Recently the BMA forced the government to negotiate over its unilateral imposition of a new contract on to junior doctors.

On an everyday level the BMA offers support and advice for doctors over a multitude of professional issues including GP contracts, employment advice and career development. Members get a weekly magazine packed with peer-reviewed case studies and best practice. When I asked a doctor about the costs of membership the unprompted response was ‘the BMA is worth its weight in gold, it is very effective and any problem you’ve got they will sort it out.’ It’s time RIBA started doing the same for architects.

Thomas Lane, BD editor

This is an edited version of the editorial appearing in BDonline on 8 December 2015.