Simon Allford Elected RIBA President

John Hill
11. August 2020
Simon Allford (Photo: Tom Mesquitta)

Simon Allford, co-founder and principal of London's Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, has been elected the 79th president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, in a year when the position has been marked by controversy.

RIBA's presidency comes with a two-year term, and Allford's will commence next year, following the tenure of Alan Jones, who has an eponymous firm in Northern Ireland. Earlier this year, just seven months into his presidency, Jones temporarily stepped down due to what was revealed as an extramarital affair he was having with an architect. After apologizing, he resumed his post in June and is expected to serve out the rest of his term, which ends in August 2021.

Perhaps stemming from these extraordinary circumstances, the field for RIBA president was the "biggest field in years," according to Building Design. BD also reports that Allford won with approximately 59% of the votes, though turnout was only 13%, with just 17% of chartered RIBA members voting and close to 7% of eligible students voting for the first time. (By comparison, Jone was elected in 2018 with 52% of the votes in a turnout of roughly 19%.)

Allford ran on an "Advocating Architecture" campaign contending that "architects must address global climate change, health, inequality and redefine the profession’s vital role in a post-pandemic world." This first point is aligned with RIBA Stirling Prize-winning AHMM being one of the founding signatories of Architects Declare, the UK commitment created in 2019 "to create architecture and urbanism that has a more positive impact on the world around us."

Simon Allford will serve as President Elect from September 1, 2020, until he starts his two-year term as RIBA President on September 1, 2021. Established in 1835, RIBA President is the highest elected position in UK architecture. Among other duties, "the President chairs RIBA Council, which acts as the representative body for the membership."

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