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RIAS call for urgent safety checks on public buildings built post-2000

February 14 2017

RIAS call for urgent safety checks on public buildings built post-2000
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has published its response to a scandal surrounding lapses in building standards following collapse of a masonry wall at Oxgangs Primary School last year with a written submission calling for UK public bodies to review the build quality of all buildings constructed after the year 2000.

An inquiry led by independent expert professor John Cole in the wake of the Oxgangs incident raised concerns for a further 17 schools in Edinburgh but the RIAS believes this may be the tip of the iceberg, with calls to extend checks to all newly built public buildings.

Describing its intervention as an ‘urgent call to action’, the RIAS argues that it ‘would be naïve’ to assume that other properties built from 2000 up to and including the present day, which may also have lacked a ‘properly resourced and structured scrutiny of the building work’.

RIAS president Willie Watt, commented: “When major inquiry reports are published there is a tendency for everyone to breathe a sigh of relief, mutter “well that’s that dealt with” and move on. That should not be the case with this, extremely well researched and deeply concerning report. The message is simple and the responsibility of all commissioning authorities is clear.

“An early process of inspection by appropriately qualified experts should proceed as urgently as the various public commissioning authorities, local, health and governmental, can muster the skilled individuals who can do this work.

“The Royal Incorporation’s own submission to the Inquiry agreed strongly that without diligent and careful checking at every stage of the building process problems are almost inevitable. In this instance it was fortunate that nobody was injured, or killed.”

RIAS secretary, Neil Baxter, added: “This report demands a response - and don’t underestimate it - that response may save lives!”

The Scottish government has written to local authorities to flag recommendations contained within the Cole Report.


#1 Posted by Cadmonkey on 14 Feb 2017 at 21:28 PM
Are the RIAS are suggesting some of its members have been under resourcing these projects?
This is very dodgy ground as allegations of under resourcing may affect Professional Indemnity Insurance cover, with severe consequences.
Should RIAS not be backing its members more like the BMA supports its doctors, I.e. be more of a Union.
Why be a member these days otherwise?
institutional cynic
#2 Posted by institutional cynic on 14 Feb 2017 at 23:28 PM
This latterday RIAS intervention concerning the emasculation of the profession is less than credible but hardly surprising. It merely demonstrates how out of touch they really are. Professor John Cole over many years activated a proactive role in ensuring that architects designing NI health buildings were not required or indeed permitted to discount fees by suicidal amounts. Where have the RIAS been since 2000. I ceased my membership in 98 as I was appalled by the prevalent institutional inertia. Clearly little has improved.
#3 Posted by flipside on 15 Feb 2017 at 09:39 AM
I don't think that this is a suggestion that members have been under resourcing projects. The D&B and Public procurement models have in some cases prevented adequate inspection by architects.

In some cases the architect being reduced to providing design info only and not being involved on site as clients/contractors/stakeholders see that as an easy saving.

I personally have been in the situation where a contractor has sat down in the first meeting after novation and declared "we don't like having architects on site" and presented this to the client like it was a clever way of saving them money. We advised differently but in the end it came down to the contractor forcefully pushing and the client accepting.
#4 Posted by Cadmonkey on 15 Feb 2017 at 10:57 AM
So surely the RIAS should be lobbying for all public procurement construction projects to include mandatory full service architect roles?
Fees should be fixed, or at very least assessed as being fair by RIAS, leaving the architect selection based on quality.
Builders that insist on having no architects are not allowed to tender. (Why would they not want an architect??)
Or is this kind of thing, pushing the role of the architect forward in society (with the end result being a safer built environment) a bit too "Uniony" for RIAS?
#5 Posted by FHM on 15 Feb 2017 at 11:20 AM
So, on the one hand RIAS wish to protect Architects by publicly decrying PFI procured buildings, insinuating their poor quality is partly caused by the procurement method which usually has little to no Architectural input when on site. And on the other hand, RIAS assist in organising a national architectural competition for the redevelopment of Perth City Hall where a main component of the PQQ is based on BIM Assessment rather than design input. So either architectural input is worth protecting to create quality buildings, or it's not required.

What is your stance RIAS?
institutional cynic
#6 Posted by institutional cynic on 15 Feb 2017 at 12:45 PM
An observation based on the valid FHM comments. Is the big question rather not one on The relevance or otherwise of the RIAS. I suggest that the comment Ashtray On A Motorbike comes to mind.
Walt Disney
#7 Posted by Walt Disney on 20 Feb 2017 at 12:35 PM
I don't think for a minute that the RIAS are talking about resourcing of architects and the PPP buildings. There is no way an architect should or could be on site to check workmanship or adherence to design and specification. There is a huge succession of people who have responsibility for that before that.

Take for example wall ties. They are sourced by the buyer, delivererd to the site manager given to the bricky contracts manager, then to the bricklaying team. The work is then checked by the contracts manager, then by the assistant site manager, then by the site manager, then by the QS who signs of a valuation of the work and approves payment. So I'd sugget that for the wall ties not to go in, there has been a root and branch failure of systems, responsibility and accountability, which all lies at the door of the contracting organisation.
D to the R
#8 Posted by D to the R on 20 Feb 2017 at 13:41 PM
@6 I've been arguing for years that the RIAS are of no use to 99% of the architectural fraternity in this country. They are, at best, seen as the nervous squeak of a voice in the industry in which architects conduct themselves. Who actually cares nationally what the RIAS say? They don't protect architects, they don't represent architects - heck they don't even speak to architects (unless they are their old chums from uni) - Mr B and co. are too busy entertaining the Danish. Architects in Scotland have, for a long time now, required a strong(er) voice to represent them ... A wee bit more than the annual bake-a-cake competition.

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