Sunand Prasad, RIBA President 2007-09

Its ‘family’ of 35,000 members sets the RIBA quite apart from any official body dedicated to protecting and promoting quality in the built environment, modern or historical. The RIBA potentially has thousands of ambassadors. And yet it often seems as if the Institute does its good works in spite of the members rather than through them. Members are often surprised to hear of the campaigns, initiatives and successes. Inevitably many also feel alienated from what they see as a remote metropolitan institution. In a profession with such a huge range of modes and circumstances of practice there will never be total consensus. But I am convinced that members are an untapped resource and that involving them more in the work of the RIBA will bring mutual benefit. Just one example: there are well over three hundred construction industry bodies dealing with regulations, codes of practice and so on, which make decisions that impact on architects working lives. Architects are welcomed on these bodies and, when they are present, make crucial contributions. Unfortunately the RIBA is able to field only a few representatives, whereas engineers, surveyors and others are far more regularly represented.
The Institute has launched its biggest ever survey of members to get a richer understanding of their concerns and needs. I believe that this is crucial to forging stronger connections with the membership. At the same time, if elected I intend to explore how RIBA council members could have more opportunity to share intelligence about the workings of regions in the council chamber, and what reform of Council would be desirable to quicken the connections between members and their Institute.