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...as institute restructuring looks to corporate model ...

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Plans for a major shake-up of the structure of the RIBA have met with concern from council members.

Chief executive Richard Hastilow argued that the changes were essential to make the organisation more efficient. He said the RIBA needed to have a clearer distinction between its services to members and its work to promote architecture.

The proposals, which draw on models from the corporate world, would establish three distinct organisations within the RIBA. Professional services would look after members' interests; RIBA Foundation would form the charitable arm, running cultural and educational activities; and RIBA Enterprises would look after the institute's commercial interests.

But council member Elspeth Clements said she had a 'large number of concerns'. The position of membership services as central to the organisation's activities could be eroded by the shake-up, she said. 'Professional services are like the sun, Enterprise is like the earth and the Foundation is like the moon. What we have at the moment doesn't entirely reflect that.'

Presidential hopeful David Thorp agreed that the proposals needed fleshing out and warned that there was a danger that council could be eclipsed. 'Lets hear the detail, ' he demanded.

However, ex-RIBA president Marco Goldschmied was enthusiastic about the restructuring, and urged council to have the confidence to embrace change. 'Like grandparents, they must let go, ' he said. And vice-president for communications Annette Fisher appealed to members: 'I beg you to embrace this.'

Consultation on the proposals has begun, with the changes likely to come into force by the end of 2002.

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