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66 Portland Place building consultation

Ideas for future of 66 Portland Place

04 February 2016

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today (4 February 2016) launched an open consultation on the future use of its landmark Art Deco HQ building in central London.

The first part of the consultation strategy is an online survey, to be followed by focus group sessions to gather more detail.

RIBA Client Advisor, Sarah Williams, said:

"This survey is the start of a detailed process which will include defining the role that 66 Portland Place plays in the RIBA’s long term vision and values. Our detailed consultation will gather views and ideas from our members, staff and other users of the building including visitors, neighbours, meeting room clients, cultural partners, sponsors and patrons.

"I encourage everyone to participate to help us shape the use of this important building for the next 80 years."

66 Portland Place is open to the public and RIBA members alike and is home to the British Architectural Library, Architecture Gallery, RIBA Bookshop, President’s Office, RIBA Council Chamber, first floor Bistro and ground floor Café/Bar and has a number of dedicated spaces available for private hire events and conferences, including the Jarvis Auditorium and the Florence Hall. In 2015 RIBA's administrative staff relocated to modern office space at 76 Portland Place.


Notes to editors:

  1. For more press information contact: Howard Crosskey +44 (0)20 7307 3761
  2. 66 Portland Place was designed by George Grey Wornum. He was the winner of the competition to design the new headquarters for the RIBA, which attracted submissions from 284 entrants. Building work commenced in mid-1933 and completed in time for RIBA’s 100th anniversary, enabling a move out of the overcrowded conditions at the former headquarters, 9 Conduit Street, London.

    At a time of heated debate about what architectural style we should be using and during an economic downturn, Wornum’s building opened on time and on a reduced budget. The feedback was positive. He had successfully combined Classical and Modernist elements, and provided the institute and its members a completed building fit for purpose and adaptable to changing needs.

    Wornum worked with a range of artists and craftsmen to create the decoration in the interiors and on the facade. Many of these details carry symbolic significance, for example the main entrance is flanked by two bronze doors depicting ‘London’s river and its buildings’. There are also references to the British Empire, reflecting the idea that in 1934 the RIBA was a focal point for architecture in the Empire. In 1970 the building was Grade II* listed, one of the first ‘modern’ buildings to be listed to recognise its unique architectural qualities.

    The six storey, steel framed building faced in Portland stone (the two upper floors were added in 1958) contains a series of spaces which vary in size and function. The building survived World War II unscathed and has only experienced minor modifications since it was extended in 1958. The most recent change has been the creation of the Architecture Gallery on the ground floor, opened in 2014.
  3. A Reimagining 66 Portland Place Steering Group will facilitate the process of the project and report back to back to RIBA Council on development and progress. The group is made up of representative from the senior team and council members and includes:

    Sarah Williams, S Williams Architects - Client Adviser
    Albena Atanassova, RIBA Associate Councillor and Ambassador for Young Architects
    Christopher Ash, Chair RIBA Premises Sub-committee
    Jane Duncan, RIBA President
    Tim Bailey, RIBA Councillor and Board Member
    Stephen Hodder MBE, RIBA Immediate Past President
    Martin Pascoe, RIBA Head of Projects and Building Strategy/House Architect
    Vinesh Pomal, RIBA Councillor and Ambassador for Young Architects
    Elena Tsolakis, RIBA Member and Ambassador for Culture
    Alan Vallance, RIBA Chief Executive (Interim)
  4. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members Follow us on Twitter for regular RIBA updates

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