The California Chapter has over 100 members throughout the West Coast states, of whom about 75 are in California.
Originally, and still affectionately known as The Los Angeles Chapter, it was founded in September 1995, and declared its mission as follows:
".. as an important Lobby, as a means of developing connections, as a forum for discussing professional issues, as a network, including an internet service if there is enough demand, and as a friendly and synergetic counterpart to the AIA in California, particularly the AIA in LA."
At the first meeting of the LA Chapter (September 1st 1995) the following theme was added:…."to promote diversity in architecture.…… and among architects….. based on core disciplines and standards….."
The committee noted the need for a lobby, to act as both a communicator and a listener on behalf of RIBA members in the USA.
They noted, with regret, the adverse licensing situation for US and UK architects in each others’ countries, which came about after 1989 (effective 1990) when NCARB decided to unilaterally abandon an earlier reciprocity deal.
The Chapter's catchment area includes all the West Coast states, with a total current membership of over 100.
To put this in context, in 1996 there were 344 corporate members of the RIBA in the USA, of whom 214 were UK licensed.
By comparison, of the 419 US-based architects who were still on the ARCUK register, 205 were not corporate members of the RIBA.
From these figures, a total British-qualified USA contingent of 549 can be identified (344+205).
Among those who have chosen not to remain UK registered, most will either have a US State License, or will be working in related fields such as set design, real estate development or teaching, which do not require a license to practice in the US, let alone the UK.
By contrast, the attraction of RIBA membership is that it is not identified with practice in a particular country or place.
The affix "RIBA" is a qualification, the high standing of which indicates recognized standards of training and competence.
In the USA, the uptake on RIBA membership has far from reached its full potential, leaving much scope for new recruitment among professionals and associates alike.
Summary of California Chapter Activity since 1995
- Formation of Chapter and Chapter committee 1995
- Organization of a program of events: attendance ranges
- Collaborative activities with local partners, notably UCLA,
Getty and AIA
- Engagement with NCARB and the California Registration Board,
at the request of members, to open a dialogue on reciprocity.
- Setting up of the first accord on CPD between the AIA and
a non-US provider: RIBA. The current list of approved providers
in the US includes only AIA providers, plus RIBA, London (provider
- National survey of all RIBA members in the USA 1998 and
2003, updated 2005. Draft report copied to RIBA London in
August as briefing in time for meeting with AIA and NAAB.
- Seeding of and initial support to the now fully-fledged
New York Chapter.
- Monthly series of RIBA Practitioner meetings at 8741, Alden
Drive, Los Angeles: last Friday in each month 6pm.
- Continuing coordination with RIBA over reciprocity and other
US theatre interests.
- 9. Intern placement service to UK universities, eg Sheffield
and Nottingham. Continuing program of placements in CA and
We have run a small program of events in LA (from which the RIBA USA presence has since been asserted).
Our program was possible thanks to the support of willing local partners, notably UCLA and the Getty Museum, both of whom collaborated in the mounting of events on their premises.
The program is described in the events