By Neil McAllister RIAS RIBA
The news about Malcolm Fraser Architects is quite a surprise and must be taken as a wakeup call by us all – that a practice which on outward appearance was very successful can underneath be struggling.
Malcolm Fraser Architects have been very influential in the architecture scene in Edinburgh and across Scotland. This was especially in demonstrating how well-crafted new buildings can be sensitively inserted into the grain of the Old Town which Malcolm is so passionate about.
The fall of such an influential practice demonstrates that there is something significantly broken in the industry. Often it appears that there are two options for an architectural practice – to produce quality or profit – with the line between being a very difficult one to tread. Somehow the profession needs to persuade clients – both public and private sector – of the value of their work and therefore be able to charge sustainable fee levels. At the same time we must find ways to work smarter with what is available.
To quote one of the sponsors at the RIAS Awards Dinner: “What’s it come to when architects need a painter to sponsor their awards.”