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What's going on behind Portland Place's doors?

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What's happening to the RIBA, 66 Portland Place? I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but the place has changed in the past few years, and I feel compelled to ask a couple of questions.

Firstly, when was the last time a great architecture exhibition was on? If memory serves, the moveable architecture and new housing were quite ambitious and the President's Medals is normally a good show (but sadly relegated to one wall this year). Further to this, I have gone out of my way to spend some rare spare time looking at an exhibition and have a coffee on a Saturday lunchtime, only to find out the area is closed for a wedding or some other event on in the evening (apparently, the website indicates the opening hours). This has occurred on a number of occasions and I can't be the only one left disappointed.

Secondly, the new RIBA café - or is it the Ribar? - appears quietly on the website and will be a pleasant shade of beige. As the public face of architecture, is this a missed opportunity? Perhaps. I understand that it will be a place to hang around post-lecture, but I find these lectures are normally sold out the day after the calendar is published, so I'll probably never experience the 'membersonly' evenings.

But how in other ways is 66 Portland Place serving its members who take the time to travel to London? With a public-service remit, how is it promoting architecture to a growing audience? So, in short, what does RIBA, 66 Portland Place, stand for today? Polite suggestions on a postcard, please.

Architect, Twickenham

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