Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland
The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland founded in 1839, is the competent authority for architects and professional body for Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...


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
Built environment
The term built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from personal shelter and buildings to neighborhoods and cities that can often include their supporting infrastructure, such as water supply or energy networks.The built...

 and society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

. The RIAI’s primary roles are in the areas of: Protecting the consumer; Promoting architecture; Supporting architects and architectural technologists; and Regulating architects.

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. 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.
In addition, the RIAI is involved in architectural education and organises an annual student competition for the RIAI Travelling Scholarship
RIAI Travelling Scholarship
The RIAI Travelling Scholarship is an award made annually by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland to one or more students of architecture attending a school of architecture in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland....

. 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.

Critics and opposition

There are concerns about the RIAI having a monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 on architecture in the Republic of Ireland. The new procedures for registration are sometimes perceived as unfair and unaffordable, especially for self-trained architects.

The qualifying criteria for Graduates wishing to join are also seen by many as too narrow and unrealistic for the needs of a contemporary practice. The lack of any meaningful challenge by the RIAI to the antiquated Irish Planning
Planning in organizations and public policy is both the organizational process of creating and maintaining a plan; and the psychological process of thinking about the activities required to create a desired goal on some scale. As such, it is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior...

 System has allowed inherent inefficiencies and corruption to go unabated, thereby contravening the institute's own stated goals of "Protecting the Consumer" and "Supporting architects". The RIAI is seen by many, including a number of its own Members, as being too focused on the province of Leinster
Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

, while ignoring the needs of Members from other regions. 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.

The RIAI is accused of misleading the public about legislative issues concerning the provision of architectural services and about registration cost. 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 such as engineers, surveyors, technologists or self-trained professionals.

In 2010, the RIAI was found guilty of discrimination against non-RIAI professionals when the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland was established on 1 October 2009 effectively replacing the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland ....

 investigated a radio advertising campaign comparing non-RIAI professionals to incompetent practitioners. The Institute had to apologies on RTE
RTÉ is the abbreviation for Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the public broadcasting service of the Republic of Ireland.RTE may also refer to:* Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 25th Prime Minister of Turkey...

and the advertising campaign was banned.


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.

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