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Royal Academy gets serious about architecture

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The Royal Academy of Arts aims to dedicate prime exhibition space to a new architecture gallery as part of an ambitious expansion.

The plans are part of a feasibility study by Michael Hopkins and Partners for Burlington Gardens, due to finish this summer. The ra said this week that it wants to prioritise architecture as well as education and shop space in the building at the back of its current home, Burlington House.

Maryanne Stevens, head of the ra's architecture programme, said: 'We are looking at financial viability as well as building potential. It will be a major fund-raising operation, but is too early to say if a Lottery bid will be made. Of the £20 million raised in the last 20 years, only £4.1 million has come from the Lottery, the rest from donors.'

The announcement seems to seal the future of the Burlington Gardens building, occupied by the now-closed Museum of Mankind until mid 2000. In the past the building has been proposed as a future base for the Architecture Foundation (more likely to move to the South Bank) or for the riba drawings collection, which is moving to the v&a.

Meanwhile the ra will run an exhibition on skyscrapers in 2001 which will, according to exhibition secretary Norman Rosenthal, counter accusations of fogeyism at the ra, as would September's Sir John Soane's exhibition, being designed by Piers Gough: 'Soane has had a great influence on the Modern Movement. The Bank of England was to him what St Paul's was to Wren.' The show will include drawings and a new model of the Bank of England which was 'pulled to pieces by another Royal Academician Herbert Baker.'

The ra is to open all night for people wanting to see the Monet exhibition on 17 April.

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