Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) (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."

Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland
TypeProfessional body
Legal statusPrivate company limited by guarantee and registered charity
PurposeThe architectural profession in the Republic of Ireland and the Register of Architects
Headquarters8 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland.
  • Republic of Ireland
Region served
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, The RIAI Student Excellence award (formerly the RIAI Travelling Scholarship) supported by Scott Tallon Walker Architects. The competition is open to final year students at the seven schools of architecture on the island of Ireland.[citation needed] They also award other prizes, such as the Deirdre O'Connor Medal which is awarded to the candidate with the best results in the Examination in Professional Practice.[5]



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(Members) and RIAI (ArchTech) (Architectural Technologist).

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.[6]

Architectural Graduate membership is open to all graduates of recognised five-year architecture programmes.[7]



The Competition Authority in Ireland has expressed concerns on what is perceived to be unjustified restrictions on competition within the architectural profession. At the same time, the Authority has expressed apprehension about proposed regulatory changes outlined in the Building Control Bill 2005, particularly regarding the level of influence granted to the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) in determining architectural qualifications. Specifically, the Authority feared that the proposed changes could create conflicts of interest, as the RIAI represented the majority of architects in Ireland while also having control over the rules designed to safeguard the public interest. In response to these concerns, the RIAI removed regulations that unnecessarily restricted advertising by architects in May 2004 and stopped publishing percentage fees in draft contracts in order to address the Authority's apprehensions. The aim of these actions were said to promote transparency and fairness within the profession while addressing the Competition Authority's concerns about undue influence and potential conflicts of interest..[8][9]

The RIAI has also been accused of misleading the public on legislative issues concerning the provision of architectural services and registration cost.[10] The RIAI is noted to often not inform the press and members of the public that it is not an offence[clarification needed] and that it is legal to propose architectural services without being registered with the RIAI. Many of the so-called "Non-registered architects" have denounced the regulator’s attitude consisting of undermining and criticising architectural services provided by professionals not registered with the RIAI.[11]

In 2010, a complaint was launched against the RIAI for an ad it labelled as a "public notice" in which non-RIAI professionals were compared to incompetent practitioners.[12] The Institute issued an apologiy on RTÉ and the advertising campaign was banned.[13]

Building Control Bill 2005


The Building Control Bill 2005 was introduced in Ireland to strengthen the powers of local Building Control Authorities in enforcing minimum building standards set by national regulations.[14] The key objectives of the bill were:

  • To simplify the prosecution process for building code offences by allowing local authorities to bring summary prosecutions in the District Court, rather than by way of prosecution on indictment by the DPP in the Circuit Court.
  • To create a level playing field where minimum building standards are applied to all builders.[15]

The bill was introduced alongside the Building Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2005, which came into operation on July 1, 2006. These regulations provided for the introduction of a building energy performance assessment methodology for new dwellings, as required by the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.[16] The Building Control Bill 2005 was part of a broader effort to update and strengthen building control legislation in Ireland. Similar bills were introduced in Northern Ireland, such as the Building Regulations (Amendment) Bill (Northern Ireland) 2008, which sought to simplify the existing provisions of the primary legislation and propose amendments to reflect the importance of sustainability and environmental issues.[17]

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". The Irish Times. 24 November 2010.
  5. ^ "The RIAI Welcomes New Members". Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  6. ^ "RIAI Member and Register Admission Routes". RIAI. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  7. ^ "Architect – Entry requirements and training". Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Competition in professional services: Architects" (PDF). Competition Authority of Ireland. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 June 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  9. ^ Oireachtas Research & Library Service (23 April 2010). "The Grandfather Clause in the Building Regulation Act 2007" (PDF). Houses of the Oireachtas. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  10. ^ "Registration of Architects: Discussion". Joint Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. 18 May 2010. Archived from the original on 25 March 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  11. ^ Contributor, A. J. (26 February 2010). "Irish ad banned for implying unqualified architects are untrustworthy". The Architects’ Journal. Retrieved 15 March 2024. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "Irish ad ‘discriminates’ against unqualified architects", Architects' Journal, 26 February 2010 | By Merlin Fulcher
  14. ^ O'Grady, Chris (22 March 2007). "Irish Building Control Institute Building Control Conference 2007" (PDF).
  15. ^ Oireachtas, Houses of the (14 February 2006). "Building Control Bill 2005: Second Stage. – Dáil Éireann (29th Dáil) – Tuesday, 14 Feb 2006 – Houses of the Oireachtas". Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  16. ^ Book (eISB), electronic Irish Statute. "electronic Irish Statute Book (eISB)". Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  17. ^