Paul Williams, a partner in Stanton Williams, became the second UK architect to be assessed for recognition under ARB rules that allow overseas architects who are unable to take UK architecture courses to be registered on the basis of their international standing. Last year, Zaha Hadid became the first to take this route.
Williams, who designed the Millennium Seed Bank in Sussex and has jointly run Stanton Williams since the 1980s, was until now unable to register as an architect in the UK because he had never received any training. He was advised to use the overseas rule to get round this hurdle by RIBA president Paul Hyett.
The ARB had previously required Williams to undertake either a full-time, part-time or correspondence course to be registered. Williams was also unable to be a full member of the RIBA unless he was registered with ARB.
In an hour-long meeting last Friday, ARB concluded that Williams was of sufficient standing to call himself an architect.
The standard needed is vastly higher than in other routes – you need an international reputation
Paul Hyett, RIBA president
RIBA president Paul Hyett said that the move could mean that other untrained architects would be registered under this route. It is believed that there are directors at Richard Rogers Partnership and Foster and Partners who have not been trained to standards that satisfy ARB's guidelines.
But Hyett warned that untrained architects could only be accepted in exceptional circumstances. He said: "The standard that Paul Williams had to achieve to get through this registration is vastly higher than other routes – you need an international reputation."
Williams said that the process had been hard work. He added: "I had to present a very comprehensive portfolio of my work, articulate my aspirations in the architectural world and explain what I had already achieved."
The former art and installation designer said that the registration would have little impact on his day-to-day work, but he believed that it was an endorsement of his 16 years in the industry.