Lord Rogers has floated controversial plans to beef up the RIBA's finances and give it greater powers to see through his much-vaunted urban renaissance.
He wants to shake-up the subscription system, which already brings in £5 million a year, to make larger practices pay more by linking subscriptions to practices' fee incomes.
The idea to milk larger practices like his own is the latest sign of Lord Rogers' frustration at the lack of any single organisation to push through the ideas of the disbanded Urban Task Force. In November, Rogers called for the creation of an urban lobby group, along the lines of Friends of the Earth, but this came to nothing and in September he attacked the RIBA as a 'gentleman's club' and called for it to be more responsive.
Now he has held talks at the House of Lords with prospective RIBA president Paul Hyett to ask him to consider making the RIBA more cash-rich and take on the leadership role in enforcing the Urban White Paper.
Hyett supports the idea. 'He [Lord Rogers] felt that the RIBA needs to be stronger financially and wants us to review subscriptions, ' he said. 'We need assistance in implementing the measures which Richard Rogers has called for.His is a very welcome comment and we will look into it right away.'
In particular, Lord Rogers told Hyett that more money needs to be found for the regional network of urban design skill centres which are called for in the Urban White Paper. However, Hyett gave no indication of what formula could be used to calculate the new subscription rates and how much extra money the change might generate.
Large practices appeared to reject the idea.
'The big practices already offer quite a lot of training for the profession, ' said Abbey Holford Rowe partner Andy Robson. 'I'm worried about throwing more money into the pot and I am sceptical about how much would filter out.' The practice pays £30,000 a year for membership into the RIBA coffers on behalf of its staff.
'I would be opposed to this because most of the RIBA activities are for small practices and it seems wrong for larger practices to be paying for them, ' said Gensler managing director Tony Harbour.
Bristol-based George Ferguson of Ferguson Mann broadly welcomed the idea but warned that the government, not architects, should be paying to back urban policies.