Bust-up with chief executive goes public

RIBA president Alan Jones has resigned from the institute’s board in a protest over its decision to consider renewing the chief executive’s contract.

Jones is said by insiders to have been engaged in a battle of wills with Alan Vallance since soon after he was elected in 2018.

Alan Jones

Alan Jones is due to leave the president’s post at the end of next month

Jones’s high-profile resignation today, accompanied by an official statement, is the first time the matter has erupted so publicly.

It is the second time Jones has stepped away from his official duties. In March 2020 he was forced to “take a leave of absence” for nearly three months after reporting himself to the RIBA over an affair with a student architect he was helping. The incident was investigated by the Charity Commission and City law firm Browne Jacobson.

Vallance filled in for Jones during his absence, although insiders say their difference of opinion began before then and relates to different visions for the institute.

Jones is now in the final weeks of his presidency with AHMM director Simon Allford due to replace him on 1 September.

Vallance’s contract is up for renewal and Building’s sister title Building Design understands Jones was against Vallance being reappointed, while the rest of the board voted to begin negotiations with him. Jones’ gripes are believed to include the size of Vallance’s salary – above £200,000 – and whether an accountant should be running a cultural institute.

Others leapt to his defence and said he had done an outstanding job refinancing the RIBA.

A statement issued by the RIBA today said: “Alan Jones, RIBA’s president, has resigned from the RIBA board, with immediate effect. Alan did not support the board’s collective decision to negotiate the renewal of the chief executive’s contract, and so decided to stand down as a trustee (RIBA board member) with immediate effect. He remains RIBA president and chair of council until the end of his tenure on August 31, 2021.”

The decision was communicated to the RIBA’s 60-strong ruling council by Jack Pringle, who chairs the board after a previous embarrassment when lawyer Nigel Carrington quit three months after being appointed, before he had even taken up the post.

Alan vallance headshot

Source: Morley von Sternberg

Alan Vallance has been chief executive since September 2016

Pringle wrote: “During the RIBA board meeting last Thursday, Alan did not support the collective decision to negotiate the renewal of the chief executive’s contract and has decided to stand down from the board with immediate effect. Alan remains RIBA president and chair of council until the end of his tenure on August 31.

“The president’s ‘ex officio’ seat on the RIBA Board will automatically be filled by Simon Allford at the start of his presidential term (September 1).

“Alan has shared with me his positive endorsement of the board’s achievements this year. I look forward to working in collaboration with him, during the rest of his presidency.”