Message from the RAIC President (June 01, 2003)

I’m very honoured to be the next President of the RAIC. For the next year, the buck stops at my desk and I will be responsible for the leadership of the Institute.

Leadership is a very complex thing, whether in producing a work of architecture, running a practice or setting the course for a professional association. First you must work out where you want to go; then you have to get people to agree to go there. In the process, you realise very quickly that the best way to accomplish your objective is to not try to do it alone.

There are supposedly four metaphorical players on a successful leadership team:

1. the monarch — the strong, wise ruler, whose authority is clear

2. the warrior — the strategist who can fight the tough fight, the fearless defender

3. the lover — because there are bridges to be built and you need a peacemaker, and finally

4. the jester — someone who can turn things on their heads and make you look at them again.

Balancing the attributes of these players within the RAIC’s leadership team will allow us to meet head on some of the daunting challenges before us.

The RAIC must get its financial house in order and we must realign both our staff and volunteer resources to fulfil what often seems a dual mandate., As the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada we have an altruistic responsibility to the Canadian people and its architecture. We also have a responsibility to our members who finance our activities.

We must provide practice support to our members, particularly in the area of professional development and we will be producing superior course content on the business and technical aspects of architecture. With awards, lectures, exhibitions and celebrations we will strive to inspire excellence in the art of architecture and raise its level of appreciation.

And so, public awareness will be another strong focus of the RAIC next year. People will pay for what they value — and what architecture brings to society in Canada is sadly undervalued. We also sell it too cheaply — but that is a major topic of its own — one to be revisited in later correspondence.

Our membership includes somewhat over a third of the registered architects across Canada, but that membership varies from over 80% in some regions to less than 20% in others. Membership increased by 9% last year, and some provinces are ready to discuss 100% participation — a positive and welcome trend.

Quebec remains the least represented region of the RAIC. We are looking to focus some of our efforts to re-engage Quebec into the national and international dialogue hosted by the RAIC., A milestone for these efforts will be our next conference June 16-19, 2004 in Quebec City. Planning is well underway for what promises to be a very special festival.

I have been asked several times “what is the big issue for next year?” I would have to say that it is presence. We cannot individually participate in every forum, government sub-committee, and industry initiative or community focus group. But we can be there collectively, and we must be there. Our members are the most active, gifted, responsible resource the RAIC has. They don’t just advise or consult; every day of their professional lives they work it out, see it built and take responsibility for the outcome., A national network of strong regional initiatives will be established to engage these members and reinforce our presence.

As an Institute, we must determine what are the issues that will be on everyone’s mind a year or two years from now. The RAIC can then place itself strategically in position to influence how these issues develop and we can prepare to serve our members with the tools and information they will need to meet their own obligations. From public-private partnerships to sustainability and liveable cities, from international relations to the cost of insurance; before we can influence and serve we must first be there, deciding where we want to go and getting others to follow., And that, is leadership.

I hope that all architects in Canada will want be a part of it.