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The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a professional architect’s body in the United Kingdom that was founded to advance the profession. Originally, it was known as the Institute of British Architects in London and was started in 1834 by a number of prominent architects of that time including William Donthorne, Decimus Burton, William Adams Nicholson, Thomas Allom, Thomas Leverton Donaldson, Thomas de Grey and John Buonarotti Papworth.

RIBA was granted a Royal Charter in 1837, and several Supplemental Charters were granted in 1887, 1909 and 1925. However, these supplemental charters were constituted into a single one in 1971, with minor amendments done in the years after. The 1837 Charter set out the purpose of the RIBA to, among other things, promote the advancement of civil architecture and facilitate the acquiring of knowledge connected with it.

The Charter gives the Institute the power to grant certificates, diplomas and other forms of recognition to its members, who are over 28,000 in number. The RIBA has a Council of 62 members who manage its affairs under the leadership of the President. The Chief Executive oversees the staff of permanent officials who work for the Council and various committees that maintain the Institute’s mandate to members around the world.

Across the United Kingdom, the RIBA has offices in various locations including Birmingham, Cambridge, London, Newcastle and Reading, among others. John Hiscocks, an experienced architect with extensive knowledge of building construction, is among the many professionals who have found value in being members of the Institute.

Strategy and Purpose

As a global body that is focused on driving excellence in the architectural profession, the RIBA has placed a strong emphasis on being collaborative, ethical, environmentally aware and inclusive to serve its members and society. The Institute’s strategy for the period 2016-2020 is to attract and retain the best talent; lead the adoption of high professional and ethical standards; help members deal with the challenges brought on by a changing world; and build a diverse body of knowledge that encourages innovation and collaboration.

Architectural Library

Upon its establishment in 1834, RIBA opened an architectural library, also known as the British Architectural Library, through member donations. It is among the largest architectural libraries in the world with over four million items and is the largest of its kind in Europe.

Some of its collections include:

  • Over 1.5 million archives of architects’ correspondence, notebooks and personal papers
  • Over 1 million drawings, from the Renaissance period to present day
  • Over 20,000 biographical files relating to specific architects or firms
  • 20,000 pamphlets and 150,000 books, with early editions going as far back as 1478
  • Over 1.5 million photographs, with some dating back to the 19th century
  • Services to Clients

    More than just providing services to its members, the RIBA is attuned to the needs of clients. To this end, it maintains a Client Services unit that helps clients identify the right architect for their project(s). To accomplish this, the unit has a computerised database that holds relevant information about Registered Practices and the work they have undertaken in the last decade. Data on each practice is divided into a work profile, information about past work, areas of experience, and the services offered by the practice.

    Additionally, the RIBA has a Competitions Office whose mandate is to help clients come up with architectural competitions as a way of selecting the best architect. The Competitions Office assists in various ways, including coming up with a competition framework (including rules and regulations), finding independent assessors, maintaining a competitive process, and organising the exhibition of successful entries. The Office also ensures the endorsement of the competitions by RIBA and offers public relations management for each event.