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RIBA vision to democratise and present itself better

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The riba has pledged to meet a series of challenges it has set itself and bolster its presentation skills over the next five years in an extensive development plan which seeks to transform Portland Place into a 'democratic, innovative, pro-active and visionary' institute.

The 'radical agenda' plan, called Meeting the Challenge - RIBA strategy for architecture and architects 1999-2003 is a detailed look at the challenges to the profession externally, a strategic agenda for architects and a series of goals that the institute intends to reach. Outgoing president David Rock said the 'corporate plan' gave the Institute 'hurdles' to negotiate and would be the 'mechanics' of the place. It has a rolling checklist which will be updated each year.

'What is needed is not just a change in direction but also a change in presentation,' writes Rock in the foreword. 'Architects need to be more streetwise and much more 'I'm in charge' ' he said. New president Marco Goldschmied, who makes his first speech in the role today, is thought to want to bolster the communications side of the institute with more appointments.

The institute has made a number of pledges for the five years including: to grow membership by 2,000 to 25,000 and to put out three reports a year from its Future Studies Unit.

The institute is also aiming to change its character: veer away from being 'elitist, anachronistic, reactive, predictable, expensive, remote, bureaucratic and ponderous' to become 'democratic, innovative, visionary, challenging, value for money, accessible, responsive and pro-active'.

The report was written by Roger Zogolovitch, who Rock brought onto council in 1997 with the specific intention to coordinate the strategy, and press officer Tony Chapman. Rock said riba did not have the funds to send out a copy to all 30,000 members but the report will appear on the Internet and will be available to buy for £5.

Meeting the Challenge is the first of a series of booklets from the institute to be followed by others on small-firms networks, housing-association procurement, and civic architects. The last will recommend an architect for every town as an enabler or a 'town champion', fitting in with the Urban Task Force report.

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