Paul Hyett says young architects need early experience on large projects and predicts more practice mergers.
Outgoing RIBA president Paul Hyett has called on the architecture profession to reassess its methods of training, and predicted a shift towards greater collaboration between practices.

Hyett said both issues needed to be addressed to enable the design sector to adapt to its changing workloads. He said: "We now have £30bn of infrastructure to be built quickly, much of which will be large projects of up to £100m. Under new procurement processes that are emerging, small practices are not in the best shape to deliver."

The point about training, according to Hyett, is that young architects should be able to work on big projects for large practices as soon as possible after graduation.

"We need to examine whether we are training the right people in the right offices. Young people deserve a career path where they can work on the bigger projects. We need more medium-sized and large practices to bring them on.

"There is an important evolution under way within the profession. An alliance like that between Bill Dunster Architects and PRP may produce a merger at some stage. I also know of a group of five practices in Richmond that have joined forces to work together."

Ryder, Hyett's own practice, recently merged with American architect HKS to form RyderHKS, a 700-strong firm specialising in the health sector.

Hyett identified two key achievements during his presidency: RIBA's increased ability to lobby MPs and the shift in emphasis towards regional practices.

He said: "Since the Thatcher years, the RIBA might as well not have existed and I have done a lot to improve our liaison with parliament. Before my presidency, we were never consulted on projects within the construction industry, but I can now challenge parliamentarians to explain a policy if needs be."

The RIBA has established the regional chairs committee, a body that Hyett sees as a way to make the institute less focused on London.

He said: "I have attended a regional branch meeting every week of my presidency. Travelling from Londonderry to Cornwall, I now know all the regional chairs and the kind of issues that concern them."

On the issue of recruiting ethnic minorities to the profession, he said he was disappointed by the failure of some in the education world to take a more positive approach.

He said: "I have been continually frustrated by some schools of architecture that refuse to give out information and statistics on this matter." Recent RIBA statistics indicate that 3% of British architects come from an ethnic minority.