Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland
Abbreviation RIAI
Formation 1839
Type Professional body
Legal status Private company and registered charity
Purpose The architectural profession in the Republic of Ireland and the Register of Architects
Headquarters 8 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland.
  • Republic of Ireland
Region served
Republic of Ireland

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (Irish: Institiúid Ríoga Ailtirí na hÉireann) founded in 1839,[1] is the "competent authority for architects and professional body for Architecture in the Republic of Ireland."

The RIAI’s purpose is "to uphold the highest standards in architecture and to provide impartial and authoritative advice and information in issues affecting architects, the built environment and society." The RIAI’s primary roles are in the areas of: Protecting the consumer; Promoting architecture; Supporting architects and architectural technologists; and Regulating architects.[2] The Institute is governed by a 26-member council.


In addition to providing a range of services to the public, to members and to the State, the RIAI operates annual design awards, and is responsible for awarding the RIAI Gold Medal.[3] This prize is awarded every three years to the best building completed in a given three-year period. The RIAI also awards the James Gandon Medal for 'lifetime achievement' in architecture. The inaugural award was made to Dr. Ronald Tallon of Scott Tallon Walker on 23 November 2010 by Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Mary Hanafin, TD.[4]

In addition, the RIAI is involved in architectural education and organises an annual student competition for the RIAI Travelling Scholarship. The competition is open to senior students at the four schools of architecture in the Republic of Ireland, as well as to students at Queen's University Belfast.


The RIAI operates three grades of membership relating architects or architectural graduates: Fellowship, Membership and Architectural Graduate. Members of the three ranks are entitled to use the affixes FRIAI (Fellows), MRIAI and MRIAI(IRL) (Members). The Graduate grade has no affix. The RIAI also has an Architectural Technician grade of membership, the affix for which is RIAI (Arch.Tech.)

Fellowship is awarded by the RIAI Council to existing Members according to specific rules.

Membership is the standard level for architects in the Republic of Ireland. It is open to those who have demonstrated competence to the level of the RIAI Standard of Knowledge Skill and Competence for Professional Practice as an architect. For those who have been deemed eligible for professional membership but who are not eligible to benefit from 'automatic' recognition under EU regulations the MRIAI(IRL) affix is used instead of MRIAI.[5]

Architectural Graduate membership is open to all graduates of recognised five-year architecture programmes.[6]

Critics and opposition

There are concerns about the RIAI having a monopoly on architecture in the Republic of Ireland. The new procedures for registration are perceived as unfair and unaffordable.[7][8]

The Competition Authority of Ireland had recommended the creation of an Architects Council of Ireland to be independent of the RIAI, but the 2007 Act promoted the RIAI as the registration body, albeit with various safeguards.[9][10][11]

The lack of any meaningful challenge by the RIAI to the antiquated Irish Planning and Building Control systems has allowed inherent inefficiencies and corruption to go unabated, thereby inadvertently contravening the institute's own stated goals of "Protecting the Consumer" and "Supporting architects". There is no public information available regarding the sanctioning of Members that have contravened the RIAI Code of Practice, thus denigrating the institute’s claim to be an authoritative and upstanding organisation.[12]

The RIAI has been accused of misleading the public about legislative issues concerning the provision of architectural services and about registration cost.[13] The RIAI frequently omits to inform the press and members of the public that it is not an offence and that it is legal to propose architectural services without being registered with the RIAI. Many of the so-called "Non-registered architects" have denunciated the regulator’s attitude consisting of undermining and criticising architectural services provided by professionals not registered with the RIAI.[14][15]

In 2010, the RIAI was found guilty of discrimination against non-RIAI professionals when the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland investigated a radio advertising campaign comparing non-RIAI professionals to incompetent practitioners.[16][17] The Institute had to apologies on RTÉ and the advertising campaign was banned.[18]

See also


  1. Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (1989). Graby, John, ed. 150 years of architecture in Ireland: RIAI, 1839-1989. RIAI. p. 46. ISBN 9780950462837.
  2. "Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI)". IHS. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  3. Melia, Paul (16 November 2012). "Bord Pleanala blocks demolition of Ireland's first skyscraper Liberty Hall". Irish Independent. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  4. "In short". Irish Times. 24 Nov 2010.
  5. "RIAI Member and Register Admission Routes". RIAI. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  6. "Architect - Entry requirements and training". Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  7. "Architects draw the line at new register". Irish Independent. 25 November 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  8. The Irish Times, "Call for 'grandfather clause' in legislation for architects' register", Wed 5 May 2010
  9. "Competition in professional services: Architects" (PDF). Competition Authority of Ireland. 2006. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  10. McEnaney, Tom (8 March 2006). "New body 'should regulate architects'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  11. Oireachtas Research & Library Service (23 April 2010). "The Grandfather Clause in the Building Regulation Act 2007" (PDF). Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  12. Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht - Building Control Act 2007 and Registration of the Title Architect: Discussion Tuesday, 3 July 2012
  13. "Registration of Architects: Discussion". Joint Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  14. "Irish ad ‘discriminates’ against unqualified architects", Architects' Journal, 26 February 2010 | By Merlin Fulcher
  15. "Adverts for architects' register 'misleading'". The Irish Times. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  16. "The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland answers to complaint from Architects' Alliance of Ireland" (PDF). Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  17. "Irish ad ‘discriminates’ against unqualified architects", Architects' Journal, 26 February 2010 | By Merlin Fulcher

External links

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