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Transforming RIBA

We are on track to create a leaner, more agile and much more member-focussed organisation.

20 July 2022

We know we have to work ever harder to attract, retain and support our members, to maximise our influence, to modernise how we operate, and to make RIBA more effective and sustainable.

We are getting the organisation into the right shape and scale: smaller and leaner. Our corporate team restructure is almost complete and we’re in the process of reducing our property footprint – all to help reduce our operating costs. In 2021, following the successful sale of NBS, a very significant protected cash sum was delivered back to RIBA, however, the loss of dividend income and the pandemic, combined with other factors, resulted in an operating deficit of £8m. We are therefore taking decisive and targeted action to put the organisation on a much more stable and sustainable footing. We have a target of reducing the operational deficit to zero in 2023.

We’re reducing silos, eliminating duplication, and centralising core competencies to create a leaner, more agile, and much more member-focussed organisation – this includes growing an endowment fund from which interest can support member activities.

Streamlined corporate structure

We have organised our staff expertise into key strategic areas. The new structure has eight core pillars:

Membership Experience – connecting and supporting our members wherever they live and work

This area combines our UK and international support teams to ensure a consistent membership experience, regardless of location. In England and Wales, staff teams are now also linked behind the scenes: North (supporting North East, North West, and Yorkshire regions), Central (supporting West Midlands, East, and East Midlands regions), South (supporting South East, South, and South West regions), London, and Wales. This will enable even more collaboration and shared support.

Executive Director – Laura Webb

Professional Knowledge & Standards – setting high standards

This team leads our activities to drive and uphold industry standards. It also includes life-long learning, education and accreditation, and our policy development team – lobbying experts that focus on the big issues facing the profession and lead RIBA’s push for the best conditions for architects and society.

Executive Director – Adrian Dobson

Architecture Programmes & Collections – inspiring global audiences, sharing our unique collections, and celebrating best practice

This encompasses the curation of an engaging, virtual and physical programme of exhibitions, events, and awards – our House of Architecture concept.

Executive Director – Oliver Urquhart Irvine

Products & Services – offering exceptional resources to the profession and high quality support for clients

This brings together our commercial activities, from our publishing function to our venues business.

Executive Director – Karen Beamish

Communications & Marketing – increasing engagement with RIBA, architects, and architecture

This pillar combines our external and internal communications channels and expertise, to improve our communication to members, industry, and society.

Executive Director – Melanie Mayfield

Inclusion & Diversity – driving inclusion internally and across the sector

This team leads our work to ensure the architecture sector and wider construction industry – and its systems and structures – are underpinned by inclusive values, actions, and policies.

Director – recruitment process underway

Strategy, Performance, Risk & Research – providing ground-breaking research and analysis

This new group focusses on external trends impacting our members’ work, and tracks the RIBA’s performance against its strategy.

Director – Simon Davidson

Technology – enhancing our digital infrastructure

Our technology team manages the foundations for our customer-centric, digitally enabled business, helping to develop the support and resources our members need now and in the future.

Interim Director – Nick Klee

All pillars are underpinned by high performing business support functions, including HR, Finance, Legal, and Governance.

Chief Executive

We are currently recruiting a permanent Chief Executive to replace Alan Vallance, who will soon move on to a new role at the Chartered Insurance Institute.

Improved governance functions

Constitutional changes have been made to streamline our governance operations. The new Board of Trustees has been created comprising eight Council Members, including the President, Board Chair, Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer, and four independent experts. The Board also benefits from contributions from Student and Associate Council Members who observe on rotation.

All regional networks now have a formal reporting line into Council through the new Nations & Regions Council Committee, which includes representation from each of the four international regions as well as the Regional Chairs across England & Wales and the Presidents of RIAS, RSUA, and RSAW, ensuring that Council receives high quality membership insight from the grassroots to inform its strategic advice and guidance to the Board. An integrated process to allocate Local Initiative Funding to UK branches and international chapters also launched this year.

A number of Council Task and Finish Groups have been set up on a short-term, project-led basis, to provide Council with insight from members and subject-experts on the key themes of the Masterplan 2034.

Committees have also been streamlined. The structure now comprises the four standing committees (Audit & Risk, Nominations, Remuneration, and Standards) plus four new Board Committees which each reflect one of the pillars of the new organisational structure referred to above – Cultural Knowledge & Outreach, Education & Learning, Membership and Practice & Policy. Recruitment should be complete to hold first meetings before the summer to commence work for the new session.

Properties

Plans are progressing to refurbish and modernise RIBA’s long-term home, 66 Portland Place, to create an accessible, low-carbon building that enables us to host debates, showcase our Collections and attract all those who want to engage with architecture.

66 Portland Place is a long-term asset, designed as an institute HQ – and it must be better utilised. Benedetti Architects has been appointed to lead on the redevelopment and they are now working on a full feasibility study, which will include the appointment of several smaller practices.

All aspects of the property portfolio are also being assessed to reduce costs and ensure they are being used effectively. It’s clear our staff and members are keen on more flexible co-working and meeting spaces, removing the need for us to hold on to more costly and underused fixed desk arrangements. This led to the decision to market the lease of 76 Portland Place and end some regional arrangements. Our use of the Mann Island building in Liverpool has also changed significantly post-pandemic, prompting a scoping exercise to determine the building’s most profitable long-term future.

House of Architecture

Programming for the House of Architecture continues to develop with events, exhibitions, and partnerships planned for 2022 and beyond. A decision has also been made to end the Architecture Partnership with the V&A and unify the RIBA’s currently dispersed and ever-growing collection of over 4 million objects and artefacts, which are currently stored within five different locations. A new facility will not only fulfil our future storage requirements and allow us to attract and accept new offers and archives, but enable the world-class assets to be used and appreciated more easily by much wider audiences. Digitisation of the collections will also be accelerated.

Member Hub

Run by members, for members, this dynamic, digital platform provides an easy way to discuss current issues and share experiences. Investment in technology like this forms a central part of our transformation programme. It provides a sustainable and efficient way to connect our members across the globe.

This page will be updated with key developments.

To find out more about the current agenda and focus of the RIBA President, Board and Council, look out for RIBA President Simon Allford’s regular Memo to Members.

Member support queries should be directed to support@riba.org.

Further reading: Transforming the RIBA – March 2022

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