riba president David Rock is proposing to shake up the Institute with a series of measures intended to extend its influence into all sections of society and open up new markets for architects. The moves, which Rock hopes will lead to architects being employed as creative people needed in unexpected situations, include developing the subscriber class of membership and altering the very name over the door at 66 Portland Place. After 160 years of use, Rock wants it to be changed to the Royal Institute of British Architecture, or, possibly, the more radical Royal Institute of Architecture.
Rock expounds on the need for change in an introduction to four papers to be given at next week's council. 'It means promoting the holistic and encompassing nature of our design training with its many specialisations,' he will say, noting that accountants, solicitors and surveyors have all moved profitably outside their vocational base and into areas where architects have the better vision.
As already reported in the aj - and already rejected as a cosmetic notion by his group of advisers from small firms - Rock will propose that consideration be given to the name change to show that the institute was set up to advance architecture rather than just its members. 'It is better that we try to be more in charge of it than let it happen to us.' A new leaflet about the Institute hammers home the point, headed, 'You don't have to be an architect . . .' on its front page, and 'to join the riba' on its rear.
Sir Colin Stansfield Smith is one supporter of the move, calling it an 'appropriate and poignant gesture at the end of the twentieth century . . . with wonderful connotations and implications'. It would have a precedent in the Landscape Institute, which was formerly known as the Institute of Landscape Architects. If council agrees, the li will be consulted, as will the riba membership in a postal survey.
The subscriber class, meanwhile, could come down in price from £96 per year for over-25s to £54. Its name could also be altered, although no alternatives have yet been proposed, and a recruitment drive in February will see mailings to potential subscribers from various contacts lists held within the riba - or ria.