WHAT IS NEXT FOR ARCHITECT LADIPO LEWIS THE NIGERIAN STAR ARCHITECT?
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This interview was first published in Buildace Magazine print version in 2017
Arc. Ladipo Adeseye Lewis (BSc. MSc. MNIA) attended Mainland Preparatory Primary School in Surulere, from where he proceeded to Birch Freeman High School in 1978 and left in 1983, a prefect and the Assistant Head Boy for the 1983 set. He always had the desire to be an Architect since he was four years old, with that zeal he left Birch Freeman and proceeded to the University of Jos Plateau State in 1984, where he later bagged his Bachelors of Science degree in Architecture in 1988 and a Master of Science in Architecture in 1990 respectfully, with a distinction in his M.Sc. design project. He is happily married to Mrs. Doris Lewis. He runs a registered and chartered private Architectural firm AZDEC A.S.C. Design Consultants. A firm behind the beautiful (15 floors) –
N3.0Billion Kanti Towers, a helipad building on Ademola Adetokumbo Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. And many other creative projects in Nigeria.
He worked in two design firms in Lagos Bofill Konsult and Bold-Arc Nig. Ltd before passing his professional practice exam in 1997 and became a full chartered member of the Nigerian Institute of Architect in 1998. He started off as a floor member of the Lagos State Chapter of NIA and became the Chairman of Education Committee in 2008 – 2010 and Secretary in 2010 – 2012, then Chairman of the State Chapter in 2012 – 2016, he also involved in some other NIA Committee activities as a member between 2009 and 2015, this includes; B.R.S, Finance, Education Board and International Affairs. Besides, he is a member of Association of Consulting Architects of Nigeria (ACAN)
For the record, He has travelled to various part of the world, vastly experience with a bouquet of professional affiliations in built environment such as Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat-Chicago USA (CTBUH),
International Affiliate of American Institute of Architects (AIA), International Parking Institute (IPI), Urban Land Institute (ULI), International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP), Intermodal Steel Building Unit Association (ISBU) and Archicad University UK
In the four years of his two tenures as Chairman of NIA Lagos State Chapter, the position that took him away from the comfort of his home, family and his own office for weeks on several occasions while carrying out the assignment of the chapter. Arc. Ladipo Lewis successfully led the chapter to become the most vibrant and financially healthy State Chapter of NIA in Nigeria, there were regular meetings and events, a surge member participation in activities, and emphasis were placed on financial prudence and use of funds to acquire assets and establish resources for the State Chapter. This evidently led to his success with the capacity to establish a motivating foundation to foster continuous growth and unity among members, putting the Chapter first above all things after God. He has laid a pathway for future generations to carry on his good work, while his four years on the sit saw landmark achievements such as:
1. Acquisition of No 99, Apapa Road, Ebute-Metta, Lagos. An
N35Million worth of property for the purpose of the State Chapter’s Secretariat building.
2. The relocation of the Chapter to its own Secretariat Office space with a fully fitted out air-conditioned, 30 seats seminar room and a state of the art 65 inch colour Multi-media touch screen with inbuilt computer and internet video conferencing facility.
3. Working Drawing Seminars that incorporate BIM and the development of a 70 pages Working Drawing Manual for members.
4. Professional Development Seminars are constantly held twice a year.
5. Acquisition of Audiovisual and Public address system with projector and screen.
6. Lagos Architects Forum (LAF) evolved into a brand.
7. An A0 large format flatbed Scanner for scanning of drawings.
8. Undisputed classic End of the Year Parties.
Arc. Ladi Lewis as he’s popularly called met only the sum of 513 thousand naira in the account of the Lagos State Chapter of NIA when he assumed office as Chairman in 2012 and handed over on the 21st of July 2016 with landed asset worth of over 6million naira office and secretarial equipment and over 8million naira in cash in the account of the State Chapter, aside his other achievements. This is a man of noble ethics whose style of leadership stands as aspiration and encouragement to other members who want to be committed to the State Chapter’s activities by taking up active roles and responsibilities, while preparing themselves for leadership positions.
Arc. Ladipo Lewis who described the office of the Chairmanship position of the State Chapter of NIA as the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in this brief interview with BUILDACE MAGAZINE said he now has the freedom to invest 100% of his precious time into his personal business as an Architect and a Developer as his firm AZDEC A.S.C. Design Consultants is set to unveil new creative ideas for the advancement of the profession in Africa.
Enjoy the interview.
How challenging is it to be chairman of NIA Lagos State Chapter?
Well! It is quite challenging in the sense that it took a lot of courage for me to take it up. It takes a lot of your time, sometimes you are away from your office for weeks attending programs, invitations, and interviews and travelling to other States Chapters on functions. So it consumes a lot of your time and it also requires you to be abreast of what is going on in the profession and attend to it, it also takes a lot of efforts attending to students, young architects who want to enter the practice, you have to visit institutions, and you have to attend to so many things. So it is a lot of commitment and I believe that it’s a sacrifice for the profession and the practice and I believe that if you are called upon to do it, I think anybody should be ready to make that sacrifice, to give his time to build up the practice.
Were you able to improve architecture education in Lagos State?
One of the things that we did was to focus on educational programs and foremost of it Lagos Architects Forum (LAF) where we have a 3days seminar sessions, exhibition and we bring in speakers from Lagos, across Nigeria and even across the world. We have also brought in notable top Architectural Firms, we also have a day to go out and look at projects, we do a site tour of various project sites and landmark developments and we have been doing that every year. In addition to this we have twice a year professional development seminars that run for a week, an intensive morning till evening session for capacity building and this is done for a whole week twice in a year in February and in August and it has grown the capacity of people that attend it.
We also have our expanded seminar and we have been continuously doing this on Working Drawings and establishing the process of building information modeling and the use of software in design, we have weekend seminars that we are also running because we built a seminar room as part of the secretariat office that can sit 30 people full air condition and 65inch multimedia screen and we also encourage students to come in and watch our educational materials in the seminar room and have discussion session. So there are things we have been able to put in place.
How did you manage to survive the powerful hand of strong opposition during your two terms as Chairman of NIA Lagos State Chapter?
Laugh! Did I really face opposition? The truth is you will never have a time in which everyone will agree with you. If everybody likes you then you are probably doing something wrong, it means that you are dancing to everybody’s tune and probably doing something very wrong so you definitely will face opposition but the thing is as far as you know that what you are doing is for the best of the institute, is for the best of everybody and you can equitably and honestly say you have done the right thing, you can’t be perfect so there are some mistakes you make along the line and you correct them and you move on. I believe that it’s a challenge that you have to meet up with. I am sure even President Mohammadu Buhari is dealing with it as other Presidents before him have dealt with oppositions from various angles, even the former President of the United State of America Barack Obama dealt with it, even the new President of America Donald Trump will face it too. So it’s a normal thing with leadership, if you don’t face opposition then something is wrong, you are probably not achieving something.
Despite the much celebrated achievements of your team in the last Lagos BGM, your former vice Arc. Titilayo Adeleye lost the state chapter’s chairmanship election to her opponent Arc. Fitzgerald Umah, how do you feel about this? Well! I believe that one, Democracy is a voice of the people and you have to live with the choice of the people, we choose our leaders and we make our choices based on whatever decision we take so what I believe is that the people have made their choice and we have a new Chairman now, we have to support him and get the best out of him. So the challenge now is how to move forward beyond the election and the priority should be the State Chapter not individuals, democracy is a game of numbers. So the issue is this, we have a new Chapter’s Chairman picked by majority of the numbers and we have to move on and establish a future for the State Chapter that is the most important thing not the individuals involved, not everybody has to be a leader.
The national body of NAI launched a talent hunt programme which they called IMAGINATION 2016 recently, what is your take on it?
The students are going to be encouraged, primarily they need to be encouraged, we also need a lot of capacity building and one of the things I see is that our students need a lot of training, mentoring and a lot of empowerment to help them express themselves and also to bring out talents among them. It’s a normal practice worldwide to organize competition for students and to generate interest in architecture.
What should the industry do to tap into the government budget in order to be a strong part of economic development and as well develop architecture in Nigeria?
There is no country that candevelop itself without infrastructure, there is no country that can develop without housing, no country that can develop without providing accommodation for its citizens and job opportunities too, and the development industry is probably the premise of indicating economic growth because economic growth can be identified with infrastructure development and how much physical structures a country develops, so architects can tap this by being utilized to create those structures that we require. At the present time we know that we require a lot of housing because we have a huge housing deficit. In developing housing also, there are other contingent building types that are required; we need to have more schools, more hospitals, more industries, and more places for people to work and more markets. So overall, we need to develop all these structures and buildings, the ability and opportunity to develop them lies with the government and the consultants, the architects who will be designing them. It has to be a joint venture system and programme to get these things done.
What is your firm Azdec A.S.C. doing to bring innovation and advancement to the practice of architecture in Africa?
In house we have always looked at development from real estate point of view, we have also looked at trying to make our buildings more energy efficient, we have also looked at trying to utilize the smallest amount of space and bringing something out of it, making more efficient use of land, making more efficient use of resources and looking at it from the financial perspective is an ability to make sure that your buildings are profit oriented in concept, that means once a building is developed it generate resources to build the second one and constantly regenerate itself, so we are trying to imbibe the concept and over the last couple of years we have been taking our practice into designs using building information modeling. Currently our designs are done in 3D. It helps us to analyze them better, we are also using it as a means of evaluating the construction methodology and the process, it’s also assisting us to better understand the detailing of our project and also to look at how efficient the use of resources are in developing those buildings.
After four years in which you did two tenures as Chairman of NIA Lagos State Chapter, would you say you are fulfilled?
Yes! I came into office with the target to achieve certain milestones and key among them was to take our programmes to a next level of looking at issues that affect architects, so we dealt with real estate, housing, the business of architecture, evolving architecture, high rise building and high density development and we also went to the point of looking at critical factors required to practice in Nigeria, we went into finance and our own basic knowledge of practices, what we need to develop ourselves and to efficiently produce designs. Now in terms of the growth of the institute, it was our dream to have our own secretariat office which we achieved, we were able to have a secretariat office with a seminar room that could sit 30 people with full AC in a serviced office building and the four years was also a time for us to think of how we could move to a permanent site and at the commemoration of it we were able to purchase a property on 99, Apapa Road, which we will be using to our State Chapter Secretariat which was a milestone that up till now the State Chapter had had no property of its own or was not even looking at a permanent site as a fixture of one of our assets. Among the things we have achieved, weekend seminars are also one of the most paramount things we introduced to kind of encourage the members to continue to do continue professional development and to pursue it. So I believe that all these will assist in making the NIA and the architects’ better architects and develop ourselves as individuals as well.
What is next for you sir?
Laughing! I have done my term as State Chapter’s Chairman and my hope is to go back into my practice and spend a lot of time now working for myself because it’s a lot of work and commitment to the institute, I even felt four years was a very long time, I wanted to do two but somehow I ended up doing four and it takes a lot of time and effort to achieve these things. It’s not a front burner for me to strive for a higher position from this stage, I am not a politician, well they said it’s not politics in the institute, its service but then, service to me also in a sense is when you are called upon and when people believe that you are the right person for the job that is when there is an obvious desire and need for pursuit of that. So I would always believe that you need to look out to see whether you are the person required to render that service and if you are then fine. But foremost for me now is actually my practice.
Thank you very much for your time Sir.
Thank you Buildace for having me.