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Foster donation fails to show

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Norman Foster has yet to hand over a £100,000 donation to help out students, nearly 18 months after it was publicly promised to the RIBA.

The cash pledge, made by Foster in December 2004 at the President's Medals presentation ceremony, was universally welcomed at the time.

However, a year and a half on, there are growing concerns about what has happened to the money.

As yet there is no sign of the release of the promised cash, nor of any 'suitable project' which Foster and Partners, together with the Norman Foster Foundation, would be prepared to back.

The lack of progress has dismayed Alex MacLaren, who was head of student body Archaos when Foster committed the cash.

She said: '[We] greeted the news with great enthusiasm at the time. We would be very keen to find out how the money will be used and we have several proposals for Foster as to how it might be put to best use if he's stuck for ideas.'

MacLaren suggested a contribution to a student hardship fund - similar to the donation made last year by the Garfield Weston Foundation to the tune of £10,000.

The money could also be used to help nurture regional and national links, improve student advisory provision and support better relations between architectural schools and practices, she said.

MacLaren added: 'Any of these areas would benefit greatly from this generous cash injection. As a national, free, voluntarily run society that survives on a basic annual budget of less than £10,000, [Archaos] knows that a little can go a long way!'

But despite months of apparent inactivity, both the RIBA and Foster deny there is any hold-up in the donation.

A spokeswoman for the RIBA said they are working together to 'agree a suitable project for the funds'.

She said: 'It is certainly not unusual for a project funded by such a significant donation to require such extensive planning.

'The RIBA refutes any suggestion that the Norman Foster Foundation or Foster and Partners have reneged on or are delaying this donation.

'We look forward to launching an imaginative programme together for the benefit of students of architecture.'

by Richard Waite

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