News feeds  RSS

RIBA announces 12 Honorary Fellowships


06 October 2009

Press office contact:

Beatrice Cooke
T: +44 (0)207 307 3813
E: beatrice.cooke@riba.org

RIBA announces 12 Honorary Fellowships

The Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) Council today approved 12 new Honorary Fellowships of the RIBA, to men and women from a wide range of backgrounds, including journalism, architectural education, engineering and surveying.

RIBA Honorary Fellowships reward the particular contributions people have made to architecture in its broadest sense: its promotion, administration and outreach; its role in building more sustainable communities; and finally its role in the education of future generations. The lifetime honour, conferred annually, allows recipients to use the initials Hon FRIBA after their name.

The RIBA’s 2010 Honorary Fellowships will be awarded to:

1. David Birkbeck, CE Design for Homes

2. Peter Bishop, Design for London

3. Patrick Blanc, French landscape designer

4. Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG, London 2012

5. Alain de Botton, author

6. Tom Dyckhoff, journalist and broadcaster

7. Rolf Fehlbaum, Chairman Vitra AG

8. Colin Hayward, quantity surveyor, KCMS

9. Hans Ulrich Obrist, Swiss curator and critic, Serpentine Gallery

10. Liz Peace, CE, The British Property Foundation

11. Brett Steele, Director The Architectural Association

12. Albert Taylor, engineer, Adams Kara Taylor

The RIBA International Fellowships will be presented at a ceremony at the RIBA in London in February 2010.

Speaking today, RIBA President Ruth Reed said,

“All of these people have done much for architecture, whether as practitioners or commentators. In their very different ways, they have helped to improve the quality of design and influence the delivery of the built environment in a sustainable and creative way. The RIBA values all their contributions and I look forward to working with each of them in the future.”

This year’s RIBA Honours Committee was chaired by RIBA President, Ruth Reed with:

David Adjaye OBE, architect, Adjaye Associates

Edward Cullinan CBE, architect, Edward Cullinan Architects

Max Fordham, Environmental Engineer, Max Fordham Partnership

Anne Lacaton, architect, Lacaton & Vassal (Paris)

Laura Lee, Client, Maggie’s.


Notes to editors

1. For further press information contact Melanie Mayfield in the RIBA Press Office on 020 7307 3662 or email melanie.mayfield@inst.riba.org.

2. The RIBA Royal Gold Medal; International and Honorary Fellows are managed by the RIBA Trust. The RIBA Trust manages the cultural assets of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), including the internationally recognised collections of the British Architectural Library. It is the UK’s national architecture centre, delivering the RIBA Awards and RIBA Stirling Prize (broadcast on Channel 4); the Royal Gold Medal; International and Honorary Fellowships; a full programme of lectures, exhibitions, tours and other events; and an education programme.

3. The full RIBA Honorary Fellows citations follow:

David Birkbeck – Chief Executive of Design for Homes

David Birkbeck probably knows more about housing than most housebuilders, developers, architects, planners or politicians – all of whom are partners in the Housing Design Awards, which David has ably administered for the past five years. Since taking over their administration from the RIBA, a move made because some thought the awards were too ‘architectural’, architectural standards have improved rather than declined, not least because David is a great proponent of the idea that architects are essential to the design of good housing. He has also professionalised the print and the event associated with the awards. But most significantly it is the depth and breadth of his knowledge and the quality of the research undertaken by his organisation - which grew out of the RIBA’s own Housing Group - which has increased the standing of the Housing Design Awards, not least among politicians and their advisors.

David was a journalist before helping to set up Design for Homes in 2000 as a not-for-profit vehicle to research and promote the value of good design in housing. He set out to transform shelves of design advice into easy-to-use tools, in keeping with the organisation's aim to spread design awareness to operational level. In 2002 he wrote the Building for Life matrix for CABE and the Home Builders Federation which compressed a set of publications into a 20-question audit, which is now the government's key tool for assessing amenity both public and private in housebuilding.

David assumes that homes should be better designed, better built - and in greater volumes. Design for Homes's research looks at how to do this, with the end-user in mind. The need to strike a balance between what consumers seem to want and what the professionals want to give them underpins much of the organisation's output. David wrote the Car Parking: What works where manual (with English Partnerships). In 2006, he edited the Superdensity report and set up the swingacat website to promote consumer awareness of size and plan in all housing. In 2008, with Julia Parkes and David Levitt, he wrote, High Density Design for Quality and Low Maintenance, a design risk assessment for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

As well as being the rapporteur and a judge for the Housing Design Awards, he was a judge in John Prescott's Design for Manufacture "60k house construction" competition, as well as the Carbon Challenge. David runs the Building for Life office for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and the Home Builders Federation, and is a board member of the Housing Forum.

Peter Bishop – planner, Design for London

Peter is the Director of Design for London. He trained in town planning at Manchester University and has spent his entire career working in London. Over the past 20 years he has been a planning director in four different central London Boroughs and has worked on major projects including Canary Wharf, the development of the BBC’s campus at White City and the Kings Cross development, one of the largest and most complex sites in London. He was appointed as the first Director of Design for London in 2006 and in 2008 as Group Director of the London Development Agency, responsible for design, land development and its environmental, housing and public space programmes.

Peters lectures and teaches extensively and is a visiting professor at the faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at the Nottingham Trent University.

His three decades of experience working in planning and environment departments include:

- Director of Culture and Environment at the London Borough of Camden

- Director of Environment, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

- Director of Environment and Technical Services, London Borough of Haringey

- Director of Planning, London Borough of Haringey

- Director of Planning, London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Peter navigates the complex urban landscape of London with skill and calm tenacity. Magically he manages to make what appear to be intractable problems become opportunities where design is placed to the fore and delivery is paramount. His support for the dissemination of new ideas has been much appreciated by the architectural community.

Patrick Blanc - French landscape designer and botanist

Patrick Blanc was born in Paris in 1953. Ten years ago he began designing eco-conscious architecture for public spaces, department stores and private domestic spaces. He came up with a method of covering both interior and exterior walls with a wide variety of exotic plant species, which it had previously not been possible to grow in such climates and on vertical surfaces. Before this was made possible, the only greening of facades came from climbers such as mortar-destroying ivy planted below the wall in the soil. Throughout history plants have always grown on buildings, but not without causing problems such as weakening structural integrity. Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden system – or le mur Végétal - allows both plants and buildings to work together in harmony. His method can be applied both on exterior and interior facades and in any climatic environment.

Aside from its aesthetic function, the vertical garden has other natural benefits such as improving air quality, reducing energy consumption through thermal insulation, providing a natural shield between the inhabitants of a space and the elements outside and introducing bio-diversity to the heart of a city.

Patrick Blanc has worked with many famous architects such as Jean Nouvel, Andrée Putman, Francis Soler, and Herzog & de Meuron in many buildings around the world.

He is probably best known for his vertical garden on the façade of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris by Jean Nouvel, who has said disarmingly of the project: ‘When you put in little flowers, people are happy." The New York Times has written of it: ‘The exterior of the administration building is swallowed up by a vertical carpet of exotic plants punctured by big windows. On some stories, the plants invade the building, crawling down the interior walls.’

Patrick has also grown his own wallpaper at home and even created a green dress - Robe Végétale, which appeared in Jean-Paul Gaultier’s 2002 fashion show.

Sebastian Coe – Chairman, London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games 2012

Lord Coe is rewarded for leading the 2012 London Olympic Bid. Its success has resulted in one of the greatest regeneration projects ever seen in the UK, which will bring permanent legacy to a neglected area of the city.

Lord Coe is committed to delivering good architecture – a subject he has been interested in since achieving success in technical drawing at the age of 15.

Sebastian is a former top-level athlete and Conservative Party politician. In his athletics career he won the 1500m gold medal at the Olympics in 1980 and 1984, and set eight outdoor and three indoor world records. He was given an MBE in 1982 and an OBE in 1990. Following his retirement from athletics, Coe served as a Member of Parliament from 1992-97, and became a life peer in 2000. He was the head of the London bid to host the 2012 Olympics and, after London won the bid, became the chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. He was given a CBE in 2006 for services to sport.

Due in part to Coe’s influence, sustainability was at the heart of the bid, with a commitment to maximise sustainability through all the phases of the Games: building the venues and infrastructure, staging the Games themselves and then long into the future – focussing on five key areas: combating climate change; reducing waste; enhancing biodiversity; promoting inclusion; and improving healthy living.

Lord Coe is rewarded with an RIBA Honorary Fellowship for his work in winning for London the Olympic Games and overseeing their (to date) successful delivery.

Alain de Botton – author

Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1969 and now lives in London. Alain started writing at a young age. His first book, Essays in Love was published when he was twenty-three.

He is a writer of essayistic books that have been described as a 'philosophy of everyday life.' He has written on love, travel, architecture and literature. His books have been bestsellers in 30 countries. Alain also started and helps to run a school in London called The School of Life, dedicated to a new vision of education.

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work was published in 2009. The book celebrates ‘an activity as central to a good life as love – but which we often find remarkably hard to reflect on properly’. In the summer of 2009 Alain spent a week getting to appreciate the work of Richard Rogers, spending a week in his practice’s Heathrow Terminal 5, to produce his latest book A Week at the Airport – A Heathrow Diary. Apart from writing, Alain has been involved in making a number of television documentaries - and now helps to run a TV production company, Seneca Productions.

He delivered the RIBA Annual Lecture in 2006, basing his address on the themes of his 2006 book The Architecture of Happiness. The book starts from the idea that where we are heavily influences who we can be - and argues that it is architecture’s task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potential. Taking examples widely spread both geographically and historically, he argues that good buildings increase our chances of happiness. And that whereas once it was assumed that good architecture equaled classical architecture, in these days of stylistic diversity Philip Johnson’s Glass House or S333’s Dutch social housing is just as likely to cheer us up as Palladio’s Villa Rotunda or the Royal Crescent Bath.

Alain also acted as a witty and incisive RIBA Stirling Prize juror in 2007.

Tom Dyckhoff – Journalist and broadcaster

Tom is a writer, broadcaster and critic on architecture, cities and design. He is architecture critic at The Times and a regular presenter on BBC2's The Culture Show. In 2009, also for BBC2, he presented a brilliant, authored series Saving Britain’s Past charting the development of the conservation movement since the Second World War. He examined our current attitudes to heritage, with programmes about the conservation of Bath, Covent Garden, the country house, our industrial past and Sheffield’s 1960s streets in the sky – Park Hill.

His other TV work includes: The Culture Show Goes to China - Writer and Presenter BBC2 2008 ; Grand Designs Trade Secrets, Channel 4 / More 4 2007-2008; The Culture Show - Presenter BBC2 2006-2008; I Love Carbuncles - Writer and Presenter Channel 4 2005. He has also contributed to Channel 4’s coverage of the RIBA Stirling Prize and acts the off-air MC for the 2009 RIBA Stirling Prize Dinner.

Tom studied geography before switching to architecture but never completed his training as an architect, preferring to work as a curator and writer in the field. He was a curator in the RIBA’s Architecture Gallery in the late 90s before switching to full time journalism.

A born communicator in print as well as in person on TV, he was a main contributor to The Guardian’s Space supplement. So popular was his Let’s Move To column that, since the demise of the supplement, it has continued as a weekly feature in the Weekend Magazine and has become the longest running architectural column in any newspaper. Just as he is in demand from both Channel 4 and the BBC, so great is his popularity with print editors that he is one that rare species: a journalist who works simultaneously for two nationals, Architecture Critic for The Times and columnist for The Guardian.

His popular appeal depends on his natural wit, a boyish charm and his ability to explain complex issues in simple language. Architecture needs more Dyckhoffs.

Rolf Fehlbaum – client, Chairman of Vitra

Rolf Fehlbaum is the chairman of Vitra, a Swiss company best known for manufacturing chairs. For all Fehlbaum's modesty, he is also a visionary. Three years after taking over as chairman Fehlbaum commissioned Nicholas Grimshaw, then the hi-tech architect to build a new Vitra factory and to produce a master plan for the whole Vitra site - which, it was envisaged, would be studded with similar buildings, creating a corporate identity in pre-cast concrete and cladding.

He commissioned Frank Gehry's first building in Europe: a chair museum which was to become the Vitra Design Museum. A second Gehry building was the company's headquarters in a quiet residential suburb of Basel, where between some flats and a cutting for a motorway, you stumble upon a building that swoops and tumbles, exuberantly connecting sky and ground. And yet this building nevertheless remains unshowy and modest, low-rise and discreet. He is behind the first European work by Tadao Ando who designs inspirationally calm buildings in concrete: a small conference centre dug into the ground. Both architects went on to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize. Zaha Hadid, another Pritzker winner, also owes a great deal to Fehlbaum. He commissioned her first ever building at a time when everyone else thought her drawings were beautiful but impossibly unworkable. Fehlbaum's architectural talent-spotting means the Vitra factory site now contains more important contemporary buildings than most major cities. Most of these buildings were commissioned before the architects were famous, through the foresight of one thoughtful and unassuming man.

As a company Vitra gave to the RIBA the furniture for the study rooms at the V&A and is responsible for the touring Le Corbusier exhibition which the RIBA Trust put on in Liverpool and, jointly with the Barbican, in London in 2008-09.

Colin Hayward – Quantity Surveyor – KMCS consultant

Colin Hayward is a Consultant for KMCS and has experience in cost consultation to education and community regeneration projects and arts projects, including major galleries and theatres, public exhibitions, dance and music venues, and nursery accommodation. He is a ‘CABE Enabler’, offering advice and support to organisations involved in projects for buildings and spaces.

For many years he was a Partner at Boydens, a QS practice, where he worked on the Imagination building on Store Street, London. Whilst there he worked for leading architects including Eva Jiricna and Fletcher Priest and was QS on many projects including the Baltic Mills Gallery in Gateshead and the Walsall Art Gallery. More recently he worked with KMCS as a cost consultant to Keith Williams, Ian Simpson, Glen Howells, and others.

In Peter Cook’s words, ‘Colin is a quantity surveyor who has commended himself to generations of architects through his total professionalism, which has been surrounded by an uncanny way of seeing past the limitations of cost and efficiency, to the essence of architecture. Colin understands people and motives; he understands the value that can be placed upon intelligent solutions that prioritise certain techniques or materials that others would just regard as quirky or tiresome. He understands this through a true feel for architectural endeavor. He supports progress and innovation, yet with a good, down-to-earth intelligence that will be the first to point out inconsistencies of method and will point out intellectual inconsistency with disarming charm. Colin is the perfect example of a fellow professional who has done much for good architecture.’

He has done much over the years to support good architecture and promote newly formed architectural practices. He also supports artistic endeavours, most recently Tonkin Liu’s (RIBA National Award winning) ‘Singing Tree’ project on the Lancashire Moors.

David Rosenberg speaks for all Colin’s clients when he says: ‘He is a significant supporter and proponent thereof to clients and others alike. Colin not only promotes design far beyond any other QS I have encountered, or with whom I have worked, but also appears happy at all times to act as mentor and advisor, and to give his all when less might be paid for.’

Hans Ulrich Obrist - Swiss curator and art critic

Hans Ulrich Obrist was born in Zurich in 1968. He is a Swiss curator and art critic. In 1993, he founded the Museum Robert Walser as a museum on the move. The migratory museum consisted first of all of a small, movable vitrine. The idea was to establish a non-monumental, modest, and very discreet museum, an elastic institution in which, he determined, ‘Every exhibition should be like the first time.’

In Paris he ran the Migrateurs programme, a series of interventions by young artists including noise musician Masami Akita (aka - Merzbow) at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, in the Palais de Tokyo. During his time there as curator of contemporary art he also co-curated monographic exhibitions of Olafur Eliasson, Philippe Parreno, Steve McQueen, Jonas Mekas and Yoko Ono.

Since then he has curated exhibitions including: Manifesta 1, the first edition of the roving European biennial of contemporary art (1996), Cities on the Move, (Vienna, Bordeaux and Haywatd Gallery London (1999); Retrace your steps: Remember tomorrow, Sir John Soane Museum, London (1999–2000); Mutations: Évènement culturel sur la ville contemporaine (with Rem Koolhaas), Bordeaux (2000–2001);The Air is Blue, Barragan House, Mexico City (2002/2003); Utopia Station, Venice Biennale (2003) and Munich (2004).

He presently serves as the Co-Director, Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, in London working with Director Julia Peyton-Jones on the unique annual programme of temporary structures by internationally acclaimed architects and designers. The architects and artists who have commissioned are: SANAA, 2009; Frank Gehry, 2008; Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen, 2007; Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, with Arup, 2006; Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura with Cecil Balmond, Arup, 2005; Oscar Niemeyer, 2003; Toyo Ito with Arup, 2002; Daniel Libeskind with Arup, 2001; and Zaha Hadid, 2000. The immediacy of the architectural process – a maximum of six months from invitation to completion – provides a peerless model for commissioning architecture.

Connecting people, cultures, agendas and institutions, Hans tracks new trends and movements in architecture to bring an exceptional mix to his audience. He has pushed the programmatic content of architecture and fostered new exchanges between practitioners, thinkers and artists, particularly at the Serpentine Pavilion where each year he co-curates the extensive programme of events as well as the pavilion itself. He has also edited a book about Cedric Price, Re:Cp ,published by Birkhauser. He recently demonstrated the breadth of his cultural references by contributing to He recently contributed to Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture, edited by Paul D Miller aka DJ Spooky.

Liz Peace – Client

Liz Peace CBE is chief executive of the British Property Federation (BPF), a trade association with over 400 corporate members, owning assets worth over £200 billion, that represents the interests of the commercial property industry in the UK. At the BPF Liz has overhauled the strategy to produce a corporate plan aimed at raising the profile of the property industry in the UK amongst politicians and other key stakeholders. She also established strong links with the Treasury, Communities and Local Government and HMRC. Liz was until recently a non-executive director of the Planning Inspectorate.

Liz began her career as a civil servant with the Ministry of Defence, working on a range of projects from Northern Ireland to Defence Estates acquisitions and public inquiries. During the 1990s she was a key player in the team that set up the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency and subsequently led the first stage of the privatisation process, including the re-branding of the organisation as QinetiQ.

She has become a well known figure in the property industry since her appointment as Chief Executive of the British Property Federation. With a remit to raise the profile of the industry in the eyes of Government she has stuck to the task tenaciously, using her experiences as a communications specialist to drive forward a number of key property industry campaigns. Whilst stressing that there is still lots to do, Liz has made great strides in persuading the Government that the commercial property industry should be taken seriously as a means of delivering social and economic improvement. She counts amongst her specific successes a string of improvements to planned legislation and regulation in the areas of taxation and planning, the Government’s decision not to intervene with legislation on commercial leases and most recently the leadership of a pan-industry alliance that has persuaded the Government to introduce Real Estate Investment Trusts.

Liz was awarded a CBE in 2008 for services to the property industry. She is a member of Peabody Housing Trust’s property committee, a Trustee of LandAid, a non-executive director of Turley Associates and Chairman of the Managing Committee of the European Property Federation.

Brett Steele – Director of the Architectural Association, London

Brett Steele is the director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture and AA Publications in London.

Brett’s contribution to the architectural community in the UK and internationally is to take the heritage of the Architectural Association as one of the world’s oldest schools of architecture and advance its role as an influential worldwide leader in architectural education. His work in the school and in the graduate school enhances its status as the world’s most influential school of architecture, maintaining its enrolment of over 500 full-time students joining the school from more than 60 countries each year.

Contributing to world architectural discourse, Brett also directs the AA Public Programme, which organizes the world’s largest series of public events dedicated to contemporary architectural culture. The programme includes visiting architects, artists, scholars, critics, exhibitions, symposia and other events in London and other cities around the world.

His greatest contribution is as founder and former director of the experimental AADRL Design Research Lab, the innovative team and network-based M.Arch programme at the cutting edge of architecture.

Brett has taught and lectured worldwide, and has published widely: he is the editor of Negotiate My Boundary (2002), Corporate Fields (2005), D[R]L Research (2005), and Supercritical (2008). He edits the series AA Words: Critical Thinking in Contemporary Architecture, and AA Agendas.

His particular interests include contemporary architecture and cities, architectural culture, and the impact of new media and today’s network-based distributed design and communication systems on architectural education.

The award of an honorary fellowship constitutes professional recognition of his contribution to architecture in the UK and internationally.

Albert Taylor - engineer

Albert Taylor is one of the founding partners of Adams Kara Taylor the design-led practice of structural and civil engineers. Its work includes visionary architecture, advanced geometry, sustainability, new technologies and civil engineering projects. The firm strives to develop innovative, environmentally friendly solutions that reduce negative impacts by lowering the consumption on non-renewable resources and minimizing the waste associated with the construction industry.

AKT has the reputation for being one of the most forward-thinking practices of engineers within the industry. The office is made up of small flexible groups to ensure that graduates are supervised by excellent and experienced engineers. It is now part of the White Young Green Group but retains its own identity.

AKT was formed in 1995 by Robin Adams, Hanif Kara and Albert Taylor, and prides itself on being a design-led structural and civil engineering consultancy. It has an annual turnover of about £8 million and its major projects include the 2000 Stirling Prize winning Peckham Library by Will Alsop and Zaha Hadid’s Phaeno Science Centre in Germany, shortlisted for the 2006 Stirling Prize.

Albert’s contribution invariably makes a real difference to the qualitative outcome of the design process, the difference that marks out a project as exceptional. His input animates, opens up and inspires the design team making each member ask for more from themselves and the project, so that greater synthesis is achieved and holistic value pushed to the fore.




Top of page