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Rock tips Colin James asnext RIBA president

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riba president David Rock has predicted that honorary treasurer Colin James becomes the next president of the Institute.

Rock told aj he suspected that Clare Frankl, his last-minute adversary in last year's battle to gain the presidential chain, had 'no time', and Terry Farrell, who was another possible runner, has already declared he is not interested in the post (aj 23.4.98). That leaves James, who has worked on the institute's brownfield campaign and operational review but caused controversy when he valued the library and special collections at £350 million. 'I'd put my bet on him at the moment,' said Rock, 'although when I spoke to him about it he'd never even thought of it.'

In the meantime, Rock has changed the whole system of electing the next president. He has quietly pushed a paper through council which 'gets rid of the antagonism at the person the council puts up' and their status as 'an Aunt Sally to pull down', by abandoning the procedure whereby council elects its own nominee. Rock said the council nomination was always seen as 'fuddy-duddy and old-fashioned', while anyone who challenged was thought 'radical and bright'.

Instead, there will be a single-stage process in which any member with enough proposers can stand for presidential election. If there is only one candidate, there will be no election. Elections for council will be brought forward three months so that the results of both council and any presidential elections are available in the first week of March. Nominations for president are required by the end of November. The new procedure would also save considerable mailing costs, added Rock.

The riba has confirmed Alicia Pivaro's appointment as director of the Architecture Centre (aj 28.5.98), saying she had the 'ideas and drive to build the Centre into a genuinely populist venue'. Pivaro said she hoped to 'extend the activity of the centre beyond Portland Place' and 'work more closely with the riba's Special Collections than has perhaps been possible in the past'.

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