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ALL HAIL PRESIDENT PRASAD?

AGENDA

Is the RIBA presidency about to become a succession rather than an election? It looks increasingly likely that Sunand Prasad will follow Jack Pringle into the big office in Portland Place next year without too much trouble.

If the rumours prove correct, then Prasad's campaign for the top job will be supported by at least the current incumbent and his immediate predecessor, George Ferguson.

Most of the evidence points to the fact that this candidacy will be like a stroll in the park compared to last time around, when Pringle had to see off serious challenges from five other candidates.

However, it is unlikely that Prasad will go completely unchallenged for the role - one name that also looks likely to enter the frame is that of Andrew Hanson, the chairman of the institute's London region.

An exceptionally likeable man, Hanson will, however, struggle to compete with Prasad's status within the profession.

It is possible that veteran outsider Brian Godfrey may also stand.

Prasad is widely respected for being extremely bright and engaging, yet is also a serious operator who undoubtedly knows how to get his own way.

He has worked quietly and behind the scenes in all the right places over the last few years. An early commissioner of CABE, he was involved with the design watchdog in its infancy, when it really set the world on fi re.

After this experience Prasad moved to the hallowed corridors of Portland Place. He has worked for the last couple of years as Pringle's policy boss, dealing with areas such as PFI.

It is here that his impact has been most dramatically felt.

It is only fair that he should bask in the glory of the recent victory in the campaign to get the Treasury to accept the importance of design in the PFI process. Taking credit for the success of this campaign is perfectly reasonable, given that he was largely its author.

Professionally, Prasad's practice, Penoyre & Prasad, is extremely successful. Design-led, it has also attempted to engage with government procurement methods.

Bridging several different sectors, it is often mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Feilden Clegg Bradley. No one can doubt that as well as being a consummate political operator, Prasad is also a heavyweight architect.

One senior figure at Portland Place put it this way: 'Sunand is a dream candidate.

He's exceptionally bright and talented and popular. He will continue much of the good work Pringle has started.

'It seems very unlikely that anyone could beat him. Even if a really big architectural name ran against him, it would be hard to compete with his record in the institute.'

Welcome president Prasad?

It would be foolhardy to bet against it - and that's not a bad thing.

Nominations for the presidency close on 12 May and will be followed by five weeks of campaigning before ballot papers are issued.

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