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At last! RIBA finally commits to national conference

A date for your shiny new diary:11-12 June. That's when the RIBA, in association with the AJ and our website, at www. ajplus. co. uk, will be doing something it has not done for many years - staging a major national conference as a key player in the construction sector.

The event, says Institute president Paul Hyett, will be one of the most important legacies of his time in office and will deal effectively with 'facing the future', reaching out to the real Institute membership in the regions and engaging in debate about important issues facing the profession over the coming years.

Speakers and the fine detail of the event are not yet tied up, but the conference will be held at Interbuild, the construction exhibition run by AJ publisher Emap at Birmingham's NEC, taking place from 9-13 June this year.

And that is fitting, since a significant part of the 'unprecedented change'Hyett believes has latterly affected the profession has been related to new forms of procurement.

The conference will also address issues as they relate to that other major talking point of our times - sustainability - and the event promises to fuse practice with education and, importantly, CPD, with the construction industry.Hyett, a fan of the AIA's annual congress, warns that the profession risks living in 'cuckoo land'without such an event.

He's right. It should be the starting point for an annual or biannual conference, filling a void made ever more apparent by the successful and very popular Scottish and Welsh conventions run by the RIAS and RSAW.

However, unlike the Scottish version, the RIBA conference will be free to all members, and will include a dinner (not free! ) and the announcement of the 50 or so RIBA awards from which the Stirling Prize, again run with the AJ, is chosen later in the year.We are planning extensive coverage of the shortlisted schemes and winners on AJPlus and, of course, in the magazine.

RIBA's mission to revitalise this inclusive debating forum for its members and capitalise on architecture's current popularity should be applauded.A good start to a Happy New Year.

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