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Race hots up

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The ambition of former RIBA director-general Alex Reid to become president of the institute, having left his job this summer six months before his contract ended, is getting serious.

Reid has been approaching leading figures in the profession seeking endorsements of his candidature; one imagines that his old mentor, past-president Frank Duffy, will be a prominent supporter, but younger, less establishment names have also been canvassed. This is uniting various groups who objected to Reid's policies on education (including the dismissal of former education director Peter Gibbs-Kennet), the ARB, the derecognition of the staff trade union, the sacking and prompt reinstatement of communications chief Roula Konzotis, and the sparring with the president over the difference between policy and operational responsibility. It is not easy to see where a candidate representing such disparate elements could come from. But Astragal has a candidate to propose: AJ columnist and practitioner Paul Hyett, currently the institute's vice-president for education. Non-committal on the presidency question, Hyett is trying to stay above institutional infighting, instead getting on with resolving real, practical matters. So far he has successfully fought a battle to maintain a rational relationship between the RIBA and ARB (particularly over education); has tackled the thorny question of USarchitects' registration - ducked by virtually all previous RIBA vicepresidents - and is actively promoting education policies to strengthen the knowledge base of graduates, particularly in relation to technology and practice. The battle will commence in earnest soon.

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