Architect volunteers to mentor the next generation for a fourth year

Ria with some of the students she mentors

Senior architect Ria Lohse, from Nottingham and Leicester-based Franklin Ellis Architects, has recently completed a third year of mentoring Nottingham architecture students and has already signed up for a fourth year as part of a national mentoring scheme run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The scheme, set up by the RIBA East Midlands in 2014, matches university students with industry professionals who have volunteered their time to mentor the next generation of architects, providing students with an insight into the practice of architecture and to enhance their learning experience.

Ria, who has over 13 years of experience as an architect, has joined the RIBA as a Chartered Member after closely working with the RIBA East Midlands team for the last three years and has mentored 12 students to date, from Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham. Ria has now committed to taking part in the annual scheme for a fourth year in 2018/19.

RIBA East Midlands is also, today at 6pm, hosting an International Women’s Day event at Nottingham Trent University, which involves the screening of a short film and discussions about female architects’ experiences, followed by drinks and networking. Ria will be speaking at the event to attendees about her own experience in the construction industry and about the importance of confidence, passion and commitment.

Ria, who joined Franklin Ellis Architects in 2004, is an experienced project architect and has a wide variety of successfully completed projects from across the Midlands in her portfolio, including both new build and listed building conversions. She is currently running three multimillion pound projects in Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol, with assistance from the Franklin Ellis team.

She said: “Mentoring students for the last three years has been extremely rewarding and I want to continue to inspire the next generation of architects, I know I would have valued the guidance of a mentor when I was studying. I also feel honoured to be working with RIBA East Midlands on the special International Women’s Day event they are hosting today.

“Throughout my involvement in the RIBA mentoring scheme over the past three years, I have noticed the growing number of female architecture students. The latest survey figures however, indicate that more than a third of female architecture students never become fully qualified. I want to better understand the reasons behind this and be an example for these young women in the industry.

“I think the RIBA mentoring scheme is a fantastic initiative and I would encourage more architects to get involved.”

Andy Dowding, partner at Franklin Ellis Architects, has also mentored in the past alongside Ria and plans to reengage with the scheme in the near future.

Franklin Ellis Architects, which will celebrate 25 years of business this year, has offices in Nottingham and Leicester and has worked on a number of high-profile schemes throughout the Midlands.

Each year the RIBA mentoring scheme runs from November to March and mentors are required to dedicate a minimum of three days per group of students during that period, to offer an insight into the business, demonstrate design, introduce site experience and to provide CV and professional advice to students.

Ria and Franklin Ellis invest much more into the students they mentor, by offering an open-door opportunity to all of them, including valuable software training and social interaction with the firm’s staff.

Mike Baulcombe, regional director at RIBA East Midlands, said: “The RIBA student mentoring scheme is a nationwide initiative to give architecture students an insight into the working world. It allows them to begin to understand day-to-day industry challenges and start building critical business skills. This year, working with our members and Schools of Architecture across the East Midlands, we are mentoring over 100 students with 50 architects.”

Other East Midlands chartered practices involved in the mentoring scheme to help shape the architects of the future, include Leonard Design, Benoy, Halsall Lloyd Partnership, Simons Group, A+G architects, CBP Architects, Rayner Davies Architects, Swain Architecture, Marchini Curran Associates.