The following opinion piece was sent into Blog on 16th December 2014 by Pat Kirwan Dip. Arch. Tech, BREEAM AP, CPHD, RIAI (Arch Tech). Pat is running in RIAI elections.
The Future for Architectural Technologists – CIAT or RIAI ?
There has been lots of debate in the recent past about where the future of the Architectural Technologist belongs – CIAT or within the RIAI. The recent building control amendments certainty accelerated the debate with what appears to be just one camp setting out their stall, those that believe that our future belongs in CIAT. Where you may ask are those RIAI Arch Tech members that believe otherwise? I joined the RIAI as an Arch Tech member in 2006, the same year that the National Competitions Authority issued a report on competitions in professional services.
The report defines the roles of Architectural Technicians (Architectural technicians support architectural technologists, architects, engineers, surveyors and other professionals within the construction industry. They specialise in the application of technology to architecture, building design and construction) and Architectural Technologists (Architectural technologists have similar skills to those of architectural technicians but also have specialist skills enabling them to negotiate the construction process and manage the process from conception through to completion).
Also in 2006 (Big Year!), the RIAI Council agreed to clearly set out the requirements for practice as an architectural technician in Ireland.
Up until that point we were Technicians not Technologists.
It took a further 3 years to develop the “Standard of Knowledge, Skill and Competence for Practice as an Architectural Technologist”. This document states that “The RIAI regards the professional Architectural Technologist as a technical designer, skilled in the application and integration of construction technologies in the building design process”.
So back in 2009, we were professional technologists skilled in the application and integration of construction technologies in the building design process. Surely this was progress from the role of Technician noting the earlier definition?
What happened to progressing the role of the technologist within the RIAI between the years 2009 and 2013? Yes the very dark days of 2009 to 2013. Media headlines from 2010 told us that 60% of the architectural profession were made redundant since 2008. How many architectural technologists remained employed in Ireland during these years, of these the primary concern was to remain employed as opposed to progressing the role of the technologist ?. The same media outlets informed us in 2013 that green shoots were beginning to appear in our fragile economy, we were now hit with the famous amended building control regulations. Again the profession was thrown into disarray. This year saw turmoil at RIAI council level with very little achieved, certainly not for the Architectural Technologist.
Skip forward to 2015 “A year For Change” as stated by the RIAI President in his recent address to members. I believe that we can make progress as technologists within the RIAI and achieve recognition under the BCAR legislation. In order to achieve this we have to address the issues of Standard of Knowledge, Skill and Competence, and benchmark the educational qualifications and professional experience of both technologists and architects. This will allow a common professional standard for assigned certifiers and equally ancillary certifiers.
The RIAI have recently agreed to the development of a common standard with Quality Qualifications Ireland for Architectural Technology in line with the National Qualifications Framework (As have CIAT). Indeed, Minister Kelly confirmed last week that he would sponsor legislation to place the regulation of disciplines such as architectural technology on a statutory footing once an agreed framework for a common standard has been put in place by industry stakeholders. As back in 2009, this surly is good news and puts the onus on the RIAI to agree such a standard. We, the architectural technology members now have the opportunity to instigate the change required to put architectural technology on a statutory footing and with a council that is willing to work together, this in my view can be achieved.
As the old adage goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, let us acknowledge the contribution of the RIAI to Architectural Technology and appreciate the very difficult years for our profession that followed and finally, look to the future where with collaboration and professionalism, we can further enhance the role of the technologist.
To answer the question posed in this posts heading, I believe that the future of Architectural Technology is firmly within the RIAI.
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