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Salford key

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All things considered, the RIBA/Cambridge University conference at The Lowry in Salford was pretty successful.

After all, it was the first standalone conference the institute has held outside London since 1984.

Speakers were on the whole good, and the subject of city renewal was timely, even if the advertised appearance of John Prescott failed to happen (like his Urban White Paper). But what the conference may be remembered for is the intervention of Richard Rogers, responding to a question from Roger Zogolovitch about what the RIBA should be doing about the weighty matters under discussion. To Zog's surprise, Lord R reached into his pocket, pulled out a prepared statement and read it to the assembled throng. As our news pages report this week, it suggests that the RIBA president should be much more powerful, should have a kitchen cabinet of non-architect advisers, and that the institute's charter and structure should be substantially altered.

One might have imagined that this would leave the president ashenfaced - but in fact Marco Goldschmied gave every indication of agreeing with what his RRP partner was suggesting. He was in ebullient form at the ensuing dinner in the Lowry, while the rest of us were left wondering exactly what was going on.

Doesn't the RIBA already work with other professionals through the Urban Design Alliance on the issues close to Lord R's heart? Isn't the existing RIBA charter all about architecture rather than architects?

(It is. ) If this was an attempt to assassinate the RIBA as we know it, Roger Zog was cast in the role of Lee Harvey Oswald. Except in this case the president doesn't die.

Come to think of it, perhaps a new charter would allow for a second continuous term.

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