Ben Derbyshire, the chair and managing partner of London- and Edinburgh-based multidisciplinary firm HTA Design, has been elected as the next president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). He will assume the role of president-elect beginning Sept. 1, 2016, and will succeed current RIBA president Jane Duncan on Sept. 1, 2017, for a two-year term.
Derbyshire will take up the position of RIBA head amid a period of uncertainty for the U.K.’s architecture, engineering, and construction sector. The country’s vote in June to leave the European Union—dubbed “Brexit”—has sent the industry reeling, with project delays, layoffs, and an overall drop in construction activity challenging architectural practices there and worldwide, Dezeen reports.
“Once again we find ourselves in turbulent times. In winning this election I am conscious of a great sense of responsibility owed to architects everywhere, in all corners of the U.K. and overseas,” Derbyshire said in a statement posted to the HTA Design and RIBA websites. “My primary goal is to champion architects so that they, our sister professions and clients, can advance architecture as the cornerstone of the well-designed and more sustainable built environment society desperately needs.”
Derbyshire will be the organization’s 76th president, a role established in 1835 and previously held by individuals including English Gothic Revival architect and 1859 RIBA Royal Gold Medalist George Gilbert Scott as well as his grandson and 1925 Royal Gold Medalist Giles Gilbert Scott.
In 2008, RIBA membership elected the first woman to the post, Ruth Reed, who served from 2009 to 2011. Reed was followed by Irish-born architect Angela Brady from 2011 to 2013, who is also the co-founder of the London-based practice Brady Mallalieu. Derbyshire’s immediate predecessor, Jane Duncan, is the third woman to serve as RIBA president. Duncan is the director of her firm, Jane Duncan Architects + Interiors, near London.
At HTA, which employs roughly 150 individuals, Derbyshire also leads the firm’s internal design review and marketing efforts. He has been a partner there since 1987.