ALERT | RIAI Architectural Technologist Register?


10 November 2016

The following letter from of the representative body for architects (RIAI) to members was sent on 4th November 2016. President of the RIAI Carole Pollard pictured.

Registration of the Title Architectural Technologist

The Building Control Act 2007 established the Statutory Registers for Architects, Quantity Surveyors and Building Surveyors.  Architectural Technologists are a key constituent in the production and delivery of buildings in Ireland and generally, suitably qualified Architectural Technologists are competent to act as Certifiers of Compliance (Design) and Assigned Certifiers as defined by the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. 

Discussions have gained momentum in recent years, culminating in the development, with support of the RIAI, of a QQI Awards Standard for Architectural Technology which sets out the learning outcomes for graduates of Honours Bachelor degree programmes in Architectural Technology.  The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is now exploring which organisation might take on the role of Registration Body for Architectural Technologists.

The RIAI is seeking to establish, through engagement and dialogue with members, whether the RIAI should seek to become the Registration Body for Architectural Technologists, or whether it would be better for Architectural Technologists to be registered by their own independent organisation.  

To help you better understand the complexity of the debate regarding the establishment of a Register of Architectural Technologists, please consider the following:

  • We have undertaken a review of 19 other countries, within the EU and globally, and none have architects and architectural technologists within the same professional institute.
  • Currently, Registered Architect members have a vote in connection with the affairs of the RIAI. If the RIAI becomes the Registration Body for Architectural Technologists, the members will have to decide whether Registered Architectural Technologists would have full voting rights.
  • If a Register of Architectural Technologists is established should a clear definition of the roles of the architect and architectural technologists be published to ensure that there is clarity with regard to what distinguishes an Architect from an Architectural Technologist? For example, should Registered Architectural Technologists design buildings? 
  • It is estimated that currently 500 Architectural Technologists qualify for inclusion on a Statutory Register (in accordance with the QQI Standard).  The cost for the maintenance of the Register of Architects already places a considerable financial and resource burden on the RIAI. It is unlikely that an independent body with a membership of 500 could be self-financing.
  • Many of those currently working in the field of architectural technology will not qualify for entry to the Register of Architectural Technologists because their qualifications do not meet the QQI Standard.  A ‘grandfathering’ system will need to be designed and administered.  Who is the appropriate body to do this, and who will cover the cost of operation?

A survey will be issued next week to gather information on the sentiment and opinions of members on the role of the RIAI in the formation of a Register of Architectural Technologists.  Any decision on the matter is subject to a vote of the membership at General Meeting.  

Yours sincerely,

Carole Pollard, President

Current RIAI policy on registration of the title Architectural Technologist passed by Council on 7th March 2014 is follows (see link here):

  1. RIAI will set up an RIAI Register of Architectural Technologists immediately.
  2. RIAI acknowledges and will support the need for a Statutory Register of Architectural Technologists.
  3. RIAI will promote such a statutory Registered Architectural Technologist as a competent person to:
  4. (a) Carry out Performance Calculation & Technical Design in accordance with Building Regulations
    (b) Certify Performance Calculation and Technical Design carried out in accordance in Building Regulations
    (c) Inspect the construction of buildings as required to certify compliance with Building Regulations
  5. The RIAI will support the development and establishment of an Architectural Technologist Register Admissions Examination (ATRAE) for purposes of entry to the Statutory Register of Architectural Technologists. The examination should be at a level which recognises the education, experience and skills of the Architectural Technologist.
  6. RIAI will develop and establish an RIAI Code of Conduct and a Professional Conduct Committee for professional practice as a Registered Architectural Technologist.

Other posts of interest:

RIAI NEWS ALERT: Architectural Technologist Register

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 5 | Architectural Technologists: CIAT

Architectural Technologists to be engaged as Certifiers? | Minister Alan Kelly

The Future for Architectural Technologists – CIAT or RIAI ? | Pat Kirwan

CIAT + Architectural Technologists | Michael Quirke

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

The future for Architectural Technologists is outside the RIAI | Joe Byrne

Architectural Technologists + Architects | Parity of Esteem?

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

UPDATE- CIAT Register for Architectural Technologists in Ireland

Dáil: Architectural Technologists back on the agenda

Who should be a Certifier- Part 1: Architectural Technologists?

Architectural Technologists- Building Control Act 2007 in breach of EU Law

Mick Wallace message to Architectural Technologists

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9

11 thoughts on “ALERT | RIAI Architectural Technologist Register?

  1. Michael O'Neill

    Reply to – ALERT – RIAI Architectural Technologist Register

    I’m finding it more than ironic that the previous ring-fencing of the right to use the title Architect in the Building Control Act 2007 –

    – which disenfranchised architects like me who were qualified with more than 7 years experience but not members of the RIAI, put me to considerable expense to get registered and contributed to the demise of my practice (because I could not compete on equal terms with Members of the Institute and use my title) –

    – has ended up with a draconian and incompetent and ineffective system which no sane professional would want to sign up to.

    A system which has already been neutered in a vote-preserving exercise by the previous government

    A regime of Certification which is a poisoned chalice and will remain so until the Regulations are re-written.

    Why is this so?

    You cannot inspect without understanding design in depth. One person cannot accommodate all fields of design. But Ancillary Certificates have neither definition nor standing in the present legislation. This is why I say that relying on one person to certify all the built work is and incompetent approach to certification

    This slough of despond is now being offered to the Technicians.

    Oops, waitammint – the Technologists.

    Technologists. What does that mean… exactly?

    Are they CAD Draughstmen who have worked their way up through increasing levels of complexity and responsibility in the building industry?

    I have worked with two people with histories like this. They could show me the way home in the areas they specialized in. But not all areas I have competence in.

    How many of those now styling themselves as Technologists ARE actually registered, qualified and trained Technologists, or Assessed Technologists?

    How many are simply Technicians who are a bit long in the tooth and for whom a bit of re-branding does no harm?

    How many have done the extra year in third level to reach degree status?

    How many have done their further study for the prescribed time afterwards, gained experience at the appropriate level, kept their project diary and become registered members of an accredited Technologists organization?

    How many can aspire to the standards contained in this document

    “CIAT – Chartered Membership: Professional Standards Framework”


    Some Technicians and Technologists may competent to certify up to a point.

    Their training may cover most small to mid-range mixed-use developments that you might see on any main street in Ireland.

    But to suggest that they are competent to certify IN GENERAL is to do both them and the professional architects in the RIAI a disservice.

    Any Architect who passes the design course has to design a project of sufficient complexity to merit the classification of “Thesis’. Technicians do not begin to approach this level of design complexity and this is reflected in their attitude to work in general and their relatively poor ability to keep a wide focus.

    Why is this an issue?

    Because it is that ability to balance the overview with the details and all levels in between that confers the ability to design and to inspect competently.

    Most Technicians OR Technologists I have met try to do everything themselves and have to be shown their limits. This is the great danger for them. They will walk open-eyed into the maw of the certification morass the previous government created.

    An architect MUST know where his design ability and professional competence stops and when he needs to bring in other disciplines – whether structural and civil engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers, landscape architects, planning consultants, BER Assessors or any one of the myriad other disciplines now advising the modern design team – OR Assigned Certifiers!

    Can a Technician or even a Technologist say the same? In my entire career I have met only a dozen or so Technologists who would be competent enough to finesse a design team and limit their professional liability.

    However, Technicians I have corresponded with suggest that only 25% of them are ready for greater responsibility, 50% will remain as Technicians and 25% will remain at the level of competent draughstperson or CAD technician.

    But sure no worries! What harm!

    Creating competition between 2,500 odd Registered Architects and 12,000-15,000 technicians claiming to be Technologists, all rushing to become Certifiers who will take a grenade for rogue developers and criminal contractors can only be a Good Thing.

    I’m sure everything has been fully thought through.

    It’ll be Good For The Profession!

    Won’t it?

    1. Chartered MCIAT

      Speaking as a Chartered Architectural Technologist with a Masters Degree in AT & Building Performance I can say I have met many registered and therefore “competent” architects, who wouldn’t know a proper weathered glazed detail if they tripped over one.

    2. Pat Kirwan


      As a Technologist, I find your comments quite offensive. I could equally write volumes on “Qualified Architects” their lack of competence and professional integrity. Life is such that we get good and bad but don’t paint everyone with the same brush.

      1. Michael O'Neill

        1. I used three different brushes to paint technicians with, supplied by the guys running the Construction related boards over on years ago and never refuted by anyone then or since.

        “…only 25% of [Architectural Technicians] are ready for greater responsibility, 50% will remain as Technicians and 25% will remain at the level of competent draughstperson or CAD technician.”

        This is from a comment made by a senior technician, not me. You can either refute that or accept it, but please don’t talk about being offended. Make your case based on experience and quote the numbers to back up your point if you want to make a credible argument.

        2. Please make an effort and respond to the points I made instead of making vague critical comments about what you *could * do. Show everyone what you *can* do.

        2. Please do some research. I was one of three people who made a formal submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment on the Building Control Act 2007 in May 2010.

        I was one of the people who followed this up by drafting and editing the Building Control Amendment Bill 2010 put forward in a Private Members Bill in July 2010 to re-introduce a grandfather clause into the Building Control Act 2007.

        I acted on behalf of the Architect’s Alliance at the time, which included several Technicians in sole practice “as architects” among their members. The measure was not designed to benefit me, but the hundreds of competent and experienced persons not qualified as Architects, who stood to lose their livelihood.

        Most of the 15,000-odd technicians estimated to be practising in the country did not appear to give their support this Bill. After seeing this lackluster level of support from technicians for a Bill that would mainly benefit them, I left them to it and pursued my own path to Registration.

        3. The term Technician and Technologist appear to a layperson to be interchangeable but they are vastly different in terms of competence and insurance requirements. Just out of curiosity, are you a registered Technologist and if so, what did you have to do to become one? You don’t have to answer but I am interested.

    3. Barry Lyons


      Your lack of knowledge about the abilities and competencies of Architectural Technologists speaks volumes.
      In over 25 years of practice at all levels I’ve met numerous Architects who couldn’t hold a candle to many Technologists in both technical ability and on site knowledge. In fact I recently had one MRIAI who pointed to the Radon barrier and asked what it was. And he’s competent to certify?
      Frankly I for one will be happy once the RIAI no longer have any influence over our profession and look forward to leaving relics such as yourself in the past where you belong.

  2. Patrick Daly

    Hi Michael,
    Looking to the future of construction in this country in the context of rapidly advancing technologies, increasingly complex regulatory regimes and increasingly tighter margins -would it be such a bad idea if architectural technicians/technologists, starting out in their careers, could be given the opertunity of one day becoming self-employed practitioners operating under a system of official registration? While at present a good many operate as employees or contractors to registered professionals, construction firms and manufacturers, the possibility of functioning as a registered professional in their own right, would I suggest, lead to an innovative and badly needed specialist profession competently equipped to contribute expertise to such matters as BC(A)R.
    Whether you agree or disagree with me is your view to own. However could I ask you to consider answering the survey if you are an RIAI member so that at least architects who have an understanding of the complexity of the proposals being put forward can decide if this is the way forward or not.

    Kind Regards

    1. Michael O'Neill


      When I was going through Bolton Street there were two methods whereby a Technician could move forward to become a registered professional.

      1. The top 10% of the Architectural Technicians from Longford House were eligible to enter the D1 Diploma in Architecture Course in Bolton Street College of Technology. I took the ‘scenic route’ getting qualified and I met many of them. Given that they fell within the top 25% mentioned in my original comment to this piece they were capable of becoming architects. Most of them qualified. I say ‘most’ because I think there were a couple who didn’t but I am not certain.

      2. The other option was to seek qualification as an architect through the RIAI. I worked with two Technicians who took this route and succeeded and two others who took it and didn’t get through. By all accounts it was a personally and physically gruelling route to go through so it was not for everyone and that 50% pass rate was representative.

      All the people I knew (whether they went through Bolton Street or via the RIAI) were hugely competent not only at their technician work but also dealing with contract and clients. They could step outside the narrow focus that can limit so many technicians.

      To answer your question the long way around – depending on their aptitude and ability I believe that people capable of acting as independent professionals, with suitable post-technician training, experience, peer review and registration will add to the profession.

  3. Malachy Mathews

    Michael O Neill, your ” comments” are ill-informed and offensive. I sincerely hope your views are not shared by your fellow RIAI voting members. I welcome this survey which will bring clarity to the position of Architectural Technologists within this professional body. The 60 year journey of ATs in Ireland from Architectural Draftsmen to Architectural Technician to RIAI Council approved title of Architectural Technologists is also a journey marked by continuous academic improvement. 5 of the 6 IOTs now qualify ATs at Level 8 (an Hons BSc) an academic qualification on par with other AEC “professionals”. This entry into the Level 8 ranks is recent and has not had time to bed down in the industry. But it will. The statutory register will be a recognition of this. Its such a pity for me that the RIAI cannot see through its blinkers to the very positive contribution ATs can make to the applied Profession of Architecture in Ireland. Engineers Ireland and the Society Chartered Surveyors Ireland recognize the diverse professions within their ranks and provide roadmaps for chartered status. In the RIAI ATs have to become Architects to attain parity. Most ATs do not want to become architects they want to have the opportunity to through professional practice and further education to become Professional Architectural Technologists, to contribute to industry, education and society in Ireland and abroad. If the voting members of the RIAI want to they can reject this and remain in their shrinking domain. Architectural Technology will take a different path and perhaps lose the straight jacket of “Architectural” in the title and make their contribution elsewhere.

    1. Michael O'Neill

      When my other answer is published you will see I am not ill-informed. 25% of Technicians five years ago would go on. 50% would not. 25% would be good draftsmen. They are not my words. Search for them on Great to see the development of a technical profession. It is much needed. That doesn’t mean all the technicians out there calling themselves technologists are technologists though. And there is the rub.

  4. Michael O'Neill

    The level of debate here is instructive.

    Most of the technicians who replied have spent their time getting offended, and attacking me and other architects, based on apparently misunderstanding of what I wrote.

    Did I comment on the competence of Technologists? No. I repeated a comment made by senior technicians which was THEIR opinion of fellow technicians.

    25% will go on, 50% will remain as technicians, 25% will operate at the level of a competent CAD technician.

    Refute this if it can be refuted. But its a comment originating from a technician, not me.

    If you want a worked example of the narrow focus of most technicians and their ability to miss the elephant in the room, just read this thread.

    Not one technician took my first point – a warning as to the “poisoned chalice” nature of the current Certification Regime.

    One responder commented that the Architectural Technologist qualification is now rated as Level 8 (I presume that is FETAC Level 8). Fine. That is where the course should beif its aspiring to be a professional course.

    It didn’t answer the question I asked

    Not one technician responded when questioned as to the competence of technicians and where technicians get the right to call themselves technologists as opposed to technicians.

    A FETAC Level 8 doesn’t confer a right to certify anything. The Architectural qualification has been FETAC Level 8 from the start, but Architects need to be Registered in order to Certify. Which is why I asked whether the Technologists were Chartered, i.e. Registered.

    Not one responder replied with their Registration Number as a chartered Architectural Technologist.

    Ah well, maybe we’ll get a few balanced answers from people who can see the wood AND the trees, now I’ve pointed these things out.

  5. Malachy Mathews

    Hello Michael,
    To address and answer some of your “thoughts”
    “RIAI Council decided in 2009 to replace the membership category of ‘Architectural Technician’ with that of ‘Architectural Technologist”. Your colleagues from your professional body. The RIAI has published its own Standard of Knowledge, Skill and Competence for practice as an Architectural Technologist and Quality Qualifications Ireland ( has developed a National Standard of Knowledge, Skill and Competence for graduates in the field of Architectural Technology, published this year.
    Your professional body provides a method for non academic qualified people working in the field of architecture to qualify for membership as an RIAI Architectural Technologist. Approx 15 to 30 people take this route each year. These people come from different backgrounds but all are working in RIAI offices. Their skills and experience are mapped against RIAIs own competence documents.
    Many Level 7 / 8 ATs seek membership of the CIAT. There are different levels of membership categories with Chartered membership at the top. CIAT operate an excellent RPL system mapped against their own QQI approved competency document.
    It is not for you or your like to pass judgment and presume that a suitably qualified AT cannot carry out statutory functions or would not possess the ability to know their own strengths or weaknesses. The fact exists that many ATs carry out this function for the practices they work in.
    No AT is rushing to become a “certifier” both those that are competent to do this should have the choice to do so.
    Your figure of 12 to 15,000 technicians is not within the scope of this argument and it is plain stupid to think it is. You use as a reference, this is an anonymous forum and really does not hold up in a serious argument. Ive heard the 25% comment many times, there are no facts to back it up.
    The RIAI President talks of a figure of approx 500 ATs this is a combination of “qualified” RIAI and CIAT members. Any register needs to have a “standing” within the industry. The Department will ensure this happens and nobody will gain entry unless they meet a standard. The legislation required to establish a statutory register for architectural technology if it follows the 2007 BCA is onerous but necessary to ensure protection to the public.
    DIT have a one year part time “progression” award for level 7 ATs to upgrade their award to level 8. Approx 25 ATs have completed this without a target at the end but if this become a requirement to join the register this option will be available also DIT have a postgraduate applied professional practice certificate course validated and ready to go should this be a requirement to join a register.
    There is more to this and is perhaps beyond your understanding. ATs provide an essential technical service (one which architects shy away from) and are leading in the digital transformation of the design and construction industry with skillsets in BIM technologies and process. Essential if architectural practice is to remain competitive.
    This statutory register will provide recognition (social and professional) of the past and future contribution of ATs to the industry and allow them to make a valid contribution to architecture and building in Ireland.
    For me it is over and out with this line of discussion, l will be putting my energies into some this is positive and not dealing with an old worn out rhetoric.


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