American Frank Gehry could be a main contender to design the home of the Scottish parliament, if the competition is run by architectural chiefs north of the border.
The rias hopes to be chosen by the Scottish Office, which chose a site in Edinburgh's Holyrood last week to house the 129 msps, to spearhead the competition.
John Pelan, rias head of public affairs, said it was unlikely the competition would be limited to Scottish architects. 'With a building of this importance, it is more likely to be European or worldwide,' he said. 'That is not to say there is not enough talent here, but a worldwide trawl would ensure the widest choice. If Frank Gehry and other big names were in the running it would make for a fascinating competition.'
However, he said that designers involved in earlier feasibility studies, such as rmjm in Scotland, Page & Park, and Benson + Forsyth, stood a good chance of landing the design.
The 1.6ha site, occupied by a brewery to be bulldozed for completion of the new design in 2001, lies at the foot of the Royal Mile running to Edinburgh Castle. At the other end of the Mile lies Holyroodhouse, where Robert the Bruce held parliament in 1326.
Pelan said the site was chosen because Scottish secretary Donald Dewar wanted a new building, and other sites such as Calton Hill were scattered with listed buildings, restricting new-build. The other two contenders were at Leith on the capital's outskirts and Haymarket in the west end of the city.
Costs of the new building are expected to be double the £40 million estimate in last summer's White Paper.