I am hurtling towards my first three month anniversary as President and the pace is as full-on as ever!
My week began in Barcelona where I was a judge for the World Architecture Festival. From Spain, via Newcastle for an awards event, I headed to Dublin where I was delighted to receive an honorary PhD from my alma mater at DIT Dublin School of Architecture. My week ends at home in London with my family and practice, phew, along with a handful of speaking engagements including the RIBA lecture (with the amazing designer of everything from the UK pavilion in Shanghai to the new London Routemaster buses, Thomas Heatherwick) and the RIBA’s Guerilla Tactics conference. Last night I awarded the RIBA Manser Medal to an exceptionally clever London house; presented by Kirsty Wark generously supported by HSBC Private Bank, it was a wonderful event that gave recognition to some brilliant collaborations between talented architects and clients. And right now I am on the train to Manchester for the opening of the new MSA building and am looking forward to meeting some architecture students and architects. It may be a cliché, but there is never a dull moment in this job.
Whilst I may have been rushing around Europe, I have in spirit stood alongside the students and tutors who this week demonstrated against higher tuition fees. Only a week or so ago I joined students and tutors at the launch of the Pavilion of Protest exhibition at the RIBA that explores the hardship too many of our architecture students endure. Our students already stand to enter employment with an inordinate financial burden, and faced with an even larger financial barrier I fear many more talented students, including those from less privileged backgrounds, may be discouraged from considering studying architecture altogether. The Government must consider the full impact of the rise in tuition fees before the architecture profession suffers terrible and irrecoverable damage.