The Fifth Estate
New NSW Architects Registration Board chair signals tougher approach
Willow Aliento | 4 July 2017
Newly appointed NSW Architects Registrations Board chair Dr Deborah Dearing has put the development industry on notice afer an architect was fined for putting his name on a project he did not design.
Last week Western Sydney architect Alex Sibir was fined $20,000 and his registration suspended for signing off on three multi-residential projects he had not designed.
Board registrar Timothy Horton told the Australian Financial Review a number of development applications had been identified that had the names of architects on them, though none of the names were the nominated architect.
This is a breach of the requirements of SEPP65, the planning rules that aim to ensure apartment amenity standards in NSW.
Mr Horton said legal advice was being sought to determine if action can be taken against the developers involved.
“Whether it’s a developer or a builder, the person who is developing an apartment building … has an obligation to meet SEPP65,” Dr Dearing told the AFR.
“It’s important that as the city densifies, the quality of construction and housing and quality of apartments is as good as it can be.”
Dr Dearing, who is also a district commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission, is the first female to be appointed as chair of the NSW Architects Registration Board, which was established in 1923.
NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Keen also announced two additional appointments – Lendlease’s Sarah Marshall, executive general manager – operational support, engineering; and Peter Salhani, architecture, environment and design writer and editor for Pocket Press.
“Quality design, housing and construction is a priority for this government. At the very centre of this are families and homeowners, and the architects and builders that make it possible,” Mr Kean said.
“The Architects Registration Board promotes a better understanding of architecture in the community, and I’m pleased to welcome new members that want to play an active role in preparing our streets, suburbs and cities for change.”
Dr Dearing said the board registers and regulates almost 5000 architects in NSW each year.
“It is the accrediting authority for schools of architecture that generate almost $30 million annually, and it informs the public on what they can expect when working with an architect,” she said.
“The board plays an important role in helping homeowners who are working with an architect to better understand what can seem a bewildering – but rewarding – process.
“We all know that delivering our dream can mean a fairly protracted path through councils, builders and budgets. Much of the board’s work is aimed at making this complex process more understandable to all.”
New strategic plan
The appointments coincide with the release of a new 2017-2020 strategic plan for the organisation.
Initiatives it is planning to implement include ARBOPEN, which aims to improve the level of information available to both architects and the general public. The project also takes a “digital first” approach to engagement and information that is expected to generate a range of social media channels and educational resources.
The plan emphasises the role of education in achieving the goals of regulating architectural practice. It also highlights the long-term costs when practitioners fail to deliver best practice.
“Architecture lasts beyond the initial homeowner or client. Negative impacts or defects in a building are costly – and unlikely – to be reversed, imposing long-term costs on neighbours, a strata body or the community at large,” the plan states.