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Picture this: presidents'portraits out for modern RIBA

In the clearest sign yet that the RIBA is determined to shake off its gentleman's club image, plans are being laid to take down the portraits of past presidents at its Portland Place headquarters.

Newly appointed branding consultant Atelier Works this week told the AJ that the 63 portraits and busts of past presidents displayed throughout the headquarters failed to project an up-to-date vision of architecture. 'Not one of them is a woman and they are all white, 'said consultant Quentin Newark. 'Why make that a significant way of communicating what the RIBA is to the public?'Newark will propose that the portraits are replaced with images of the latest Stirling Prize projects and Royal Gold Medallists. The plan, which would mean replacing pictures by Patrick Heron and John Singer Sergeant, sparked anger among past presidents.

'This is part of the tradition and some of these are works of art, 'said Owen Luder. 'There are far more important things the RIBA should be doing. '

Richard MacCormac said: 'The permanency and core of the institute is well represented by portraits and that is important in a fast changing society. ' But he said the portraits should be confined to a single room and added 'the building should not give off the atmosphere of a Masonic lodge'.

The consultants are also likely to propose the abolition of the RIBA's heraldic crest, apart from on prestige items such as awards and certificates. A new logo, based on the letters RIBA, will be drawn up by Pentagram.

Atelier Work's proposals will be vetted by a high-level committee, led by chief executive Richard Hastilow, before they go to council in spring.

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