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A New Chapter call on RIAS president Stewart Henderson to resign

January 26 2018

A New Chapter call on RIAS president Stewart Henderson to resign
A New Chapter, the umbrella grouping of architects seeking reform of the RIAS, has called for the resignation of president Stewart Henderson in order to expedite wholesale reform.

The call for new leadership was made in a seven-point position statement which also urges existing trustees to agree to an ‘orderly standing down later this year’, as part of a wholesale purge of those with ‘wrongful allegiances’ pending their potential re-election.

A New Chapter makes it plain that it is still far from satisfied with what little progress has been made so far, foremost being the establishment of a new governance committee chaired by Karen Anderson - following the standing down en masse of a previous governance review group – to which it has been invited to participate.

In a statement A New Chapter wrote: “It is a little odd to be invited to submit to attend a new 'governance committee' when our clear and necessary demands have been unacknowledged and ignored.

“Nevertheless we extend a cautious welcome to this initiative, in particular as we note its remit, power and the means of accepting its proposals are yet to be clarified.”

A New Chapter is also calling on the RIAS to delay its search for a new treasurer and secretary until the organisation has been effectively reformed.


Bill S
#1 Posted by Bill S on 26 Jan 2018 at 13:18 PM
Wait, how many points are we at now? Five or Seven?
#2 Posted by mick on 26 Jan 2018 at 13:32 PM
At last A New Chapter are now getting real. Do not stop there, call for the full council to curl up and go...they are all implicated within the RIAS malaise. This is now the opportunity of a lifetime.... liquidate the RIAS now including all assets, obligations and expectations. Walk away and start again with the mantra of Integrity, Relevance and Opportunity. Unfortunately the 5 Point Plan changes nothing, it is the same same old gunk dressed up, rolled out and recycled. Be strong, bite the bullet and grasp this unique opportunity. If you really want architecture to prosper you must establish whole new ideals now. The previous professional body aspirations have proven to be totally inadequate. Some old dude with a toilet chain hanging round his neck has no relevance in this 21st C Scotland.
#3 Posted by StyleCouncil on 26 Jan 2018 at 17:57 PM
Couldn't agree more.
#4 Posted by Rickymac on 26 Jan 2018 at 20:24 PM
Now is the time to completely rethink our Scottish Chapter and put design to the forefront of our ethos coupled with proper professional fee scales. This would discourage bodies such as SFT to continually dilute and reduce fee levels and scope of service . We are still the most appropriate professionals to lead and coordinate design and now is the time to reclaim our position in the construction process.
Len Brennan
#5 Posted by Len Brennan on 27 Jan 2018 at 12:12 PM
Down with this sort of thing
#6 Posted by mick on 27 Jan 2018 at 15:45 PM
The comments, above, by Rickymac really spell out the aspirations and the frustrations of architects in Scotland at this time. His plea citing that it is the time to completely rethink our Scottish Chapter and put design to the forefront of our ethos coupled with proper professional fee scales is I suggest the only hope for a future for our profession. All other methods for adjustment of the existing system fail to address the core faults. Terminate the RIAS and start again using processes and procedures appropriate to architects in Scotland in this 21st Century. I APPEAL TO URBAN REALM TO ENABLE THIS COMMENTARY THREAD TO REMAIN ON LINE FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS AS IT IS THE SINGULAR POINT OF DISCOURSE FOR THIS PROFESSIONAL CRISIS.
#7 Posted by Skeptical on 29 Jan 2018 at 10:18 AM
Perhaps someone can address some points? As an architect & employee of a practice which doesn’t pay for membership to RIBA/RIAS I feel that it is pointless to be a member as likely the benefit would be to directors etc. and not going to have much impact on my salary etc. – certainly if you count the time spent.

But, when I skim through the RIAS documents it would appear to have a democratic structure?

So why cannot these issues of change desired by members be addressed by its members, I just don’t buy that they are all up to something, perhaps the very top has been… but is it fair and reasonable to try and raise the whole thing to the ground?! A significantly larger amount of people than 150 has driven its focus.

Reading some of the names, there are some typical agitators and some educational hangers-on, and some ideological people I’m sure have their heart in the right place. However, I cannot shake the expectation that the main leaders are doing this only for personal gain – which again leaves whatever rises from this irrelevant to me and a perhaps a majority of architects like me.

So really what I’m asking is what are the tangible facts? Show me where you have put in the hard work and joined and tried to effect reasonable change? Rather than just rabble-rousing.

This all seem to be political posturing to the long term detriment of the RIAS by people who would only want to take the place / influence of the deposed, but most likely will sidle off leaving everything worse off.. show me how I am wrong?!
jenny normal
#8 Posted by jenny normal on 29 Jan 2018 at 11:47 AM
#7 skeptical - the overarching problem is that it is anything but democratic and that ordinary members don't have a say in what goes on, who is elected president, who represents architects in scotland as 'secretary' etc.
#9 Posted by mick on 29 Jan 2018 at 12:07 PM
In direct response to Skeptical I shall all a little background material. In the late 80's I specifically requested a meeting with J Spencely, president + C Mackean, secretary of RIAS to both highlight and probe the then serious anomalies and missed opportunities that I perceived were prevalent in so many arenas of RIAS activities. Consequently, as a result of my meetings, I was appalled by the evident inertia, lack of strategic vision, lack of real world understanding and over riding reliance on an ultra conformist old boys network.... I had two options, one.. capitalize on the support that I knew was available to start a new alternative professional body or, two.. walk away cease my membership and forget about them. As I am and have been a university teacher of architecture I opted for the latter but certainly if I had been exclusively in practice I would have made it my mission to challenge every scintilla of RIAS inadequacy. After all this time and bearing in mind the increasing derisory status of the profession today I now see no option but complete cessation, closure and liquidation of the RIAS as a body. It simply is no longer fit for purpose.
A New Chapter
#10 Posted by A New Chapter on 30 Jan 2018 at 08:37 AM
Thanks for all the comments and insights posted here.

In answer to Bill S’s question (#Post1), The Position Statement relates to the current situation at RIAS and the 5-Point plan sets out potential aims for a membership organisation going forward. These are based on discussions between those in New Chapter over the past 3-4 months. A more detailed version of the 5-point plan is also now available on the website

#Skeptical - there has been several months of work and activity taking place to try to better understand the situation at the RIAS. A New Chapter arose specifically from similar issues experienced by Mick (post #9).

The more action, debate and ideas for RIAS reform the better. Our local Chapters are key to this. The RIAS began as a federal organisation but is now strongly centralised at Rutland HQ - which must change.

We all know that our role, fees and services are being steadily eroded and poorly understood. Equally, the value that good architecture plays in everyone's life needs to be better communicated and discussed. So we all need a membership organisation that can better influence, champion, support and lead on our behalf.

If anyone is interested in further exploring the thoughts expressed here in more detail then do write to and we can send more info. There’s also an online forum for discussion called Basecamp which we can invite you to if you email.

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