Apathy at the RIAI

Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Fri May 22, 2009 10:29 pm

I long time ago, I began to take much more pleasure in reading material written by great software architects, instead of construction architects. Software architects seem to be more active and more aware of the real world around them. They are always trying to ‘build’ something, working something out, or thinking of a better procedure. It is a level of brain activity that is fairly high and constant throughout their working lives. You meet programmers who are getting on in years, and still their brain is active on something. The pioneering Irish software architect Gordon Clarke is a perfect embodiment of that. I was lucky enough to meet him in person recently. I wish I could say the same for the Irish architectural profession.

I suppose the Irish architectural profession doesn't have motivations such as venture capital grants, stock market floatation’s, take-over bids, young start-ups to spur it on. That is how the software industry usually works. The architectural profession doesn't have any of that. Nor does it have research and development. Architects rarely put their names to high level research such as Phd's. (They are much too busy trying to make ends meet in private practice) This is something that should be improved. I had almost forgotten why I stopped reading architects' writing, when I came across a letter today. It is a very public example of the apathy that pervades the architectural profession at the very highest level. I have attached the letter as a PDF, which was addressed to the Irish environmental minister, on the proposed new energy regulations.

When I read it, I am reminded what the architectural profession has become. It has learned every kind of scam, to pass responsibilities on to other parties. The letter is a perfect example of what you have to deal with in real life, when working alongside an Architect. They don't wish to 'build anything', they don't wish to follow through or develop anything. When you read it, the letter almost says 'do our job for us'. Is the profession even aware of this deterioration in it's outlook? The letter is almost saying, do our site supervision and site visits for us. Try not to bother us too much, and even 'go away' in not so many words. That is a letter from the president of the Institute of Architects of Ireland. What hope have younger members of the profession? I was impressed by the response from the Department of the Environment. Which basically instructed the RIAI: Guys, deal with it. You have chosen to become part of the construction industry, for better or worse. Please try to get with the program and get involved. It appears the normal tactic of the 'wash my hands and get away fast', didn't work. Thumbs up to the DOE.

Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby reddy » Mon May 25, 2009 1:23 pm

Maybe this thread could be a good place to suggest things which people feel the RIAI should be doing or things they feel they are doing badly?

For my two cents, this is a pdf guide designed to tell companies about the benefits of using graphic/ corporate design. Its really good - makes a compelling case.

http://bit.ly/9e8nE

Does anyone know if the RIAI has an equivalent describing the benefits of using an architect? It'd be a good idea.
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby missarchi » Mon May 25, 2009 2:34 pm

I think competitions for the more significant spaces or projects in the city would go a long way...

I seem to remember so much being promised but its all gone quiet...
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby gunter » Mon May 25, 2009 4:06 pm

. . . and what happened to the 'charettes', . . . . or did I just miss them?
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby missarchi » Mon May 25, 2009 11:30 pm

gunter wrote:. . . and what happened to the 'charettes', . . . . or did I just miss them?


this would be some of them... The others im not so sure...
http://www.riai.ie/public/downloads/UrbanForum-CPD-Nov08.pdf
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby gunter » Tue May 26, 2009 12:52 am

missarchi wrote:this would be some of them... The others im not so sure...
http://www.riai.ie/public/downloads/UrbanForum-CPD-Nov08.pdf


I don't think so missarchi, that's just standard CPD stuff. I did one of those on a similar theme a couple of years ago . . . it was dismal . . . . and the best of luck to them if they think there'll be many takers this time at €595 a head :rolleyes:

The way I understood it, they were talking about prompting the schools to host summer-school-like workshops that architects, with perhaps more time on their hand than work, might get involved in as a voluntary exercise.

Maybe I took it up wrong!
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby magwea » Tue May 26, 2009 2:37 pm

http://www.nowwhatrichview.blogspot.com

Is this what you mean Gunter? Only stumbled onto this yesterday myself.
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby reddy » Tue May 26, 2009 3:57 pm

magwea wrote:http://www.nowwhatrichview.blogspot.com

Is this what you mean Gunter? Only stumbled onto this yesterday myself.


Hadn't seen this either. Thats encouraging. Thanks Magwea.
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Tue May 26, 2009 10:03 pm

I fully welcome this approach to using the thread. It is important that architects do think about this - a lot in the current circumstances. How they can cater for a market, what is that market etc. An excellent book though, which warns against the process of designing products around existing 'markets' is Clayton Christensen's book, The Innovators Solution. Clayton talks about, 'what is the job that people are trying to do, which isn't being done very well at the moment'.

This brings you into the whole area of non-existent markets, that can be created. And if architecture is ever going to 'disrupt' the existing structure in any way, then it has to adopt a disruptive approach. I cannot say much more than that, except point people towards the book in question. There should be more emphasis placed upon innovation within the professor. My observation, is that too many of the younger generation simply accept what is offered to them. Instead of saying 'No, I think I will create something' for myself'.

(Inserting my best Bob Geldof accent imitation)

I mean, that was more or less the straw that broke the camel's back, in my own relationship with the the RIAI years back.

(without the Geldof accent, more of a broken country twang)

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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Tue May 26, 2009 11:01 pm

I decided to 'get smart' myself and not dump the usual 4 million lines of text on Archiseek.

Instead I dumped it here:

http://designcomment.blogspot.com/2009/05/notes-on-smart-economy.html

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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby gunter » Wed May 27, 2009 1:13 am

magwea wrote:Re: UCD link: Is this what you mean Gunter? Only stumbled onto this yesterday myself.


Don't think so magwea.

This is what the RIAI said back in January:

Image

Image

I don't recall hearing anything further, just wondered if anyone else had?

garethace wrote:. . . . and if architecture is ever going to 'disrupt' the existing structure in any way, then it has to adopt a disruptive approach.

Brian O' Hanlon


Do you mean 'disruption' for the sake of it, or some kind of constructive disruption to break up the cosy consensus within the architectural establishment?

If it's the latter, I be inclined to take your point. We're supposed to have all these 'problem solving' skills, (because we've been trained so well :rolleyes:) Our medium is supposed to be critical judgement. The design process is all about coming up with ideas and then making the ideas stand up to rigorous testing under diverse headings; utility, practicality, suitability, affordability, 'sustainability' etc., . . . but for allegedly possessing all these skills, you never see the RIAI, as the representative body for the profession, ever make any submissions on critical development proposals.

Why do we leave important things, like the next Dublin City Development Plan, for example, in the hands of planners?

Why does the RIAI not submit plans to DCC with the solutions to College Green, Metro North, densification, pedestrianisation etc. etc.? . . . We can host arty exhibitions on 'The lives of Spaces' but when it comes to actual spaces and the lives of our cities, we've nothing to say!

And then there's the issue of the protection of our heritage. Every proposal weaving it way through the planning process, involving the destruction of part of our heritage, has been lodged by an architect! . . . . Is there any will in the RIAI to confront this? . . . .or do we just shrug our shoulders and blame the planners?

Architecture has dozens of challenges to address, dozens of contributions to make, but why do any of that when we can pat ourselves on the back and hand out another batch of awards.
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby bitasean » Wed May 27, 2009 10:46 am

I still cant figure how to quote bits but in relation to the comment "Why does the RIAI not submit plans to DCC with the solutions to College Green, Metro North, densification, pedestrianisation etc. etc.?"

I was of the same opinion and put it to some senior types in DCC planning Dept as to why there was no equivalent here to the weekly consltations between Richard Rogers and the then mayor of London, Ken Livingston. And to my surprise I was told that some very eminent architects (Shelly, Yvonne et al. ) do actually act in an advisory role to the powers that be. So while the RIAI (poor divils, they're taking an awful lot of stick these days) may not be active in the role you suggested, other (perhaps more hands on) experts are.

Unfortunately I cant say who told me this, since it was an informal meeting and I didnt catch their names or positions so hopefully this information is actually correct - anyone know anything else about this?
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby magwea » Wed May 27, 2009 3:06 pm

Apropos The lives of Spaces. Is it even worth trekking out to Farmleigh to see?
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Wed May 27, 2009 9:27 pm

gunter wrote:Do you mean 'disruption' for the sake of it, or some kind of constructive disruption to break up the cosy consensus within the architectural establishment?


Put something together this morning.

http://designcomment.blogspot.com/2009/05/going-beyond-base-elements.html

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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby parka » Thu May 28, 2009 4:10 pm

Got the e-bulletin today. I never knew there was an annual RIAI cricket match :confused:
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Thu May 28, 2009 9:33 pm

Samuel Beckett the famous writer had a great affinity with the game of cricket. I'm not familiar with it myself. I don't begrudge the guys their sports so much, and if it does serve to bring lead partners together in a less 'pressure cooker' kind of situation, so much the better. Now more than ever.

One cannot come up with creative solutions, by being under constant strain and pressure. Sporting activities can be a great way to integrate new members within the clan. That is positive and I'm sure other professions do it. Plus some restaurant or other venue is kept in business in catering for meals etc. (What goes around, comes around) But the aim should be to augment, this informal bonding and group activity, with constructive new plans and target setting.
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Sat Jun 06, 2009 11:24 pm

For all I have said about the profession of Architecture, I have managed to miss one aspect. I have gone to lengths to draw attention to things the RIAI hasn't done. Duties it has not performed. But there is a side to this discussion, I haven't been able to articulate properly. I am going to attempt to rectify that. There is something the profession of architecture in Ireland could do nothing about. Something terrible which the profession of architecture in Ireland, is struggling in the early 21st century to come to terms with still. I was watching some old footage on BBC4 of the final days of WWII this evening. Well worth catching if you ever have the chance. Here is the wiki page of the American film maker responsible.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Stevens

In the 1930s, Europe had been a world leader in many ways. Yes there was economic depression on a global scale in the 1930s. But there also would have been optimism in the early 20th century. The architectural profession across Europe, including that in Ireland, would have fed on that optimism. Ireland had gained a new autonomy and began to build its own state. But watching the documentary film about the end of WWII, I noticed that Europe in the mid 1940s was a medieval kind of place. Within a short space of time, much of the optimism in Europe had been reversed.

I got a sense watching the film footage by George Stevens, of the attitudes of both east and west towards, the broken down and suddenly 'backward' European situation in the mid 1940s. Europe posed no competition in any sense anymore. It was literally in bits, and would not be a major player in the game for decades after. Not only was physical infrastructure in ruins, you could repair that with steel and concrete. But relationships between the member states were badly damaged and could not be as easily repaired. The two armies met for the first time on the Elbe river in Germany. Both the Russian and American armies were thousands of miles away from their homelands. All that had been left in their wake was a path of destruction and war torn landscape.

It is important to put the architectural profession in Ireland in that context. It was remote and marginal. It was unable to draw on much inspiration from Europe. When I attended architecture school in Bolton Street in the early 1990s, they were still trying to model themselves on the Bauhaus! Something that had been discontinued in the 1930s, sixty years earlier. I look at buildings built in Ireland prior to WWII and you can see the skill and connected-ness they have with some grand, intact European tradition. But having left such a wonderful legacy, the architectural profession in the post WWII years, across Europe was simply marginal to the discussion. You had a broken down and backward European mainland, which could only look for the cheapest and fastest solutions.

Solutions that were probably driven by people in the construction industry and the engineering or cost control professions. How else would the likes of Ballymun be tolerated? I worked for a number of years as an engineering draughtsman for an elderly structural engineer. He told me that his first assignment as a young graduate was to assemble together a gigantic pre-fab kit, to make an aircraft hanger in Northern Ireland as part of a US base there. When Ballymun and precast construction was happening much later in Dublin, there was still a sense of post WWII desperation about it. The fastest, most scientific and logistically efficient construction. The point was discussed in a radio interview with Pat Kenny this year. Boston based property developers, Corcoran Jenninson observed the idea of building something quickly and leaving site as fast as possible, was still the model here in Ireland today.

The engineers and cost control professions in the post war years, would have seen their positions grow in importance. While the architects saw their position minimized in that time of crisis. Given that context, we cannot have expected for any kind of fruitful relationship to exist between engineers, architects and those involved in cost control. Architects to this day are highly defensive and prickly about their status. It doesn't help the cause of better integration of the construction professions. We are still trying to overcome this problem of relations within the construction industry. This makes sense when you place it in the context of WWII.

The engineering and cost control professions will be reluctant as we go forward to relinquish any of their dominance. On the other hand, architects are ill-equiped to take up 'leadership positions' within the construction industry. The accountancy profession had died out completely in Russia, by the time the Berlin wall collapsed in 1989. In architecture in Ireland today, there is nobody left who remembers when architects were leaders. Architects simply don't know how to behave in that role, for all the lip service the young ones dish out on the subject. That has to include this website:

http://www.nowwhatrichview.blogspot.com/

In the post WWII years, Irish architects had the option to journey westward across the Atlantic. Some never returned again. In the wake of WWII, there was nothing left intact, no tradition in Europe to which one could aspire. All there was left, that was intact was in the United States. You can see the impact of the United States on the careers of people like Sam Stephenson. The people at Scott Tallon Walker gathered whatever they could on trips to the United States and brought it home. But it is difficult to form a relationship with a country on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. The lessons that Irish Architects could gather and bring home from America must have been limited. Limited in some case to the aesthetic appearance. But not the entire business and leadership side of architecture.

I highly encourage anyone to check out George Stevens WWII film footage if you can. Perhaps you can see more in this than I can. I was lucky enough to work for Liam Carroll, the Irish property developer towards the end of the bulding boom. What I am greatful for, is the fact that Mr. Carroll looked to the United States in his inspiration. He probably learned something from his time spent working at Jacobs. He made attempts to foster in his own organisation a balance between engineers, cost control and design. His business was never painted in the best light in the Irish Times. But I learned something about the unity of the construction professions that was definitely worth the effort.

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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:14 pm

I had to come up with some response to this:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7628

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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:20 pm

A presentation in the US aimed at young startup Green Tech companies.

http://www.aeesolar.com/trainings/presentations/The_Strategic_Word-Q1-2009-AEE-Solar-Conference.pdf

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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:28 pm

I have included a post about Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore over here:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7466

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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby janmc » Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:34 pm

I have started a poll here about architecture and job losses in Ireland, and one of the items that crops up regularly in the comments is frustration at the inaction of the RIAI at the moment. If any one who wants to partake in the survey, please take a look.
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:15 pm

? ? ? Architecture and Show Bands ? ? ?

What do we hope to do I wonder? Provide a travelling workshop/lecture series about towns, to go around the country of Ireland? Where town dwellers and business people (including publicans, store merchants, etc) can go and view an exhibition, about other successful projects? Maybe there is a bottom-up kind of awareness building that should be done. I think if such an exhibition or road-show was to be organised, it is essential it is not a load of exhibition boards folded up, travelling around in a lorry with no human companionship. It is crucial that real professional architects, planners and possibly even developers are on the tour, and give people some human interaction with ideas of urbanism.

The exhibition or road show, should be small and neat enough to travel right into the smaller towns and villages, such as Caherciveen, Listowel, NewCastle West and so on. You might only target a few towns in one summer. But that would be an improvement on nothing. You could target some more towns the following year. The whole thing could be funded in a self-sustaining manner I am sure. By selling 'tickets' to the local hob-nobs for an opening night - an intellectuals night with featured speakers. It could incorporate a brainstorming session and possibly, the publication of feedback from the various towns in some central place such as a website. We have enough agencies and civic bodies to make something like this happen over the summer months. It would get the 'design' message out amongst ordinary punters in a way that TV programs couldn't do.

It occurs to me that What Now? out at UCD Architecture School is a very fine idea. But it caters a bit too much for the artistic impulse to lock one's self away with one's buddies in some sheebeen, talking intellectual nonsense. When they really aught to balance that impulse for intellectual self-searching, with a much wider, interactive action . . . something like the simple road tour that I suggest. I mean, if we are going to provide funding for anything, wouldn't this be a good place to put it? It would probably pay for itself in the long run, by architects getting some work, owing to increased public enthusiasm for design. A bunch of students and tutors locking themselves away in UCD, is not going to achieve the needed end result. Even what we are doing here on Archiseek, is a little bit too private and self-aware. The message has to be taken to the people.

I keep getting back to the point, that not many people in their life times will have oppotunity to even meet, never mind hire the services of an architect.* Most people are familiar with priests, solicitors, doctors, auctioneers and so forth. But architects are something out there, that the general populus doesn't understand about. I mean, every other business manages to organise promotional stunts - why not architecture? Or is the stiff upper lip professional thing too much of a problem? A lot of the time too, these travelling exhitions are high-brow academic things, aimed at other academics and usually sponsored by the Arts Council. I think Paul Keogh in his essay mentioned the tidy towns scheme. The great thing about the tidy towns, is that it involved so many people. But it didn't achieve the goal, of giving the general public access to so good workshops or lectures on the subject of design.


Brian O' Hanlon

* Part of the gimmick could be to raffle off the services of an architect in every town visited. This might be self-sustaining in some way too, if one could sell enough tickets. Plus, that person who received the services of an architect, would be an excellent form of viral marketing at a local level. He or she would tell everybody at local level, how wonderful an experience it was to have an architect. I wish the RIAI would provide scholarships for architects to attend the Smurfit School of Business or do marketing studies . . . this is the kind of area of 'business ideas' that architecture needs to advance in. It is time to use that lateral thinking.

I guess what I am thinking about, is something similar to what Tim Robbins did for Archaeology, with the Time Team concept. Top Gear does it to a degree also for automobile travel.
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Re: Apathy at the RIAI

Postby garethace » Sat Jun 27, 2009 4:29 pm

There is an opportunity in the waiting for designers to generate added income from selling their own post-occupancy evaulations to other designers. I am sure that other designers would pay good money to study the mistakes and trials others have dealt with in the past. How can we develop this as a business model? Maybe designers could arrange to cross-share each others POE studies. Funding to carry out these studies could be generated by selling membership subscriptions to a central source of information. This would be a very sustainable activity to engage in, according to my model.

http://designcomment.blogspot.com/2009/06/multi-layered-definition-of.html

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