Oliver Richards Putting Architects First

I am first and foremost a practising architect.

I founded Orms in 1984 having worked for Lasdun, Farrell Grimshaw and Terry Farrell. Orms has now grown to around 45 people. So I have set up and run a small to mid-sized award-winning practice for 30 years with built work across the UK and Europe.

I am proud of the successes of the more than 20 architectural practices that have used Orms as a springboard to found their own firms. They share my belief in the value of good design and the need to demonstrate it. I call it ‘architectural economics’.

For 4 years I was Vice President of Education at the RIBA and this year Stephen Hodder asked me to chair the Steering Group which will bring all London based staff into a single building. This involvement, together with 2 years on the RIBA board, has helped me understand the organisation and its strengths and its shortcomings.

Too many architects – and in particular the next generation of younger architects – are sceptical about what the RIBA can achieve. Worse still, they regard it as irrelevant and inward looking.

These insights have led to my action plan to make the RIBA look outwards – it is aimed at Putting Architects First.

My action plan is designed to tackle key issues where the RIBA needs to change.

Hitting the ground running – in my first 90 days I will

  • review how local branches and the International Chapters are supported
  • start to make research a cornerstone of our intellectual position with a national database
  • promote alternative routes into the profession and tax efficient funding advice for students
  • begin remodeling the clients’ advisory service and the competitions office
  • set up cabinet style governance and a team which can help implement these plans

I have longer-term aspirations to help shape a new RIBA.

Focus on members – now and for the future. We will

  • make members’ needs the priority – to help them fulfill their role in architecture
  • use modern communications effectively
  • devise new ways of helping those who take a break from practicing to keep up to date
  • encourage active and wider involvement with the RIBA by all built environment professionals
  • encourage closer working relationships between practices and universities
  • make ‘architectural economics’ a core aspect of courses

Making our voice heard. We will

  • take active positions on many more issues of architectural importance
  • promote architectural excellence
  • collaborate with other professions and thought leaders for greater RIBA influence
  • use RIBA knowledge to raise the quality of planning decisions
  • widen and celebrate the breadth of our well respected awards

Continuing with Stephen Hodder’s initiatives. We will

  • promote better procurement
  • measure the value of design to prove our worth
  • work to integrate better the profession with the construction industry
  • encourage sustainability – and do so with a more holistic approach

Architecture for the future

The independent Farrell Review has involved many RIBA architects and sets an excellent agenda. We must debate it and help to make much of this a reality.

My commitment

I love architecture. Being elected to this post will allow me to give something back and hopefully to enthuse the next generation – within and outside architecture – about a great profession.

Follow @ORichards_Orms on twitter for updates on my campaign and all matters architectural!