The Building Brit Pack

The RIBA’s new Architecture Gallery is the first of many steps towards a bigger future

This month marks an exciting time for the RIBA with the opening of the Architecture Gallery at 66 Portland Place with the inaugural exhibition, The Brits Who Built the Modern World. The exhibition, in partnership with the Open University and the BBC, and curated by Mike Althorpe, tells the inspiring story of the transformation of British ­architecture as it grew to take a world-leading position by the end of the 20th century. This era of vast change was spearheaded by a generation of British architects who redefined the world’s cities and created extraordinary buildings that put British architecture back on the world map. We chart what was created and where, revealing the buildings, their designers and their influences, inspiration and legacy. The reasons behind this global success story are explored through 190 photographs, drawings, models and other materials either drawn from the RIBA’s incredible collections or loaned from key practices.

These architects and this period of British architecture were hugely influential to my own formative years.

Two complementary exhibitions place the global story of British architecture in context. Empire Builders 1750-1950, curated by Charles Hind at the V&A, explores the origins of British architectural influence. And New British Works in Gallery 1 at 66 Portland Place reveals the enormous wealth of British-based creativity being exported around the world today. 

This programme will promote architecture and showcase our world class library collections to new audiences. That focus on exhibitions, talks and workshops that are truly aimed at the public, marks a shift for the RIBA and ensures we live up to our Royal Charter and translate the meaning and ­importance of architecture to everyday lives. So a partnership with the BBC begins to make this truly possible – with the BBC ­architecture season and a three part BBC Four programme of the same name. 

The Architecture Gallery gives us a wonderful space in which to tell the story of architecture and the impact it has on all our lives

The Architecture Gallery gives us a wonderful space in which to tell the story of ­architecture and the impact it has on all our lives. I would like to thank the partnership that has made its delivery so successful. It is just the first step in our ambitious plans to cement our role as a significant voice in architecture. In the spring we will re-launch architecture.com as a website that lives up to its name and inspires and informs the public and our members. And early next year we will launch a second gallery in Mann Island in Liverpool and tour our exhibitions between the two venues and beyond. 

Architectural pioneer Richard Rogers, still busy with his Meccano set, features in the Architecture Gallery’s opening show.
Architectural pioneer Richard Rogers, still busy with his Meccano set, features in the Architecture Gallery’s opening show.

Bigger, better, busier

I attended the Nations and Regions Committee this month and was excited to hear about the increasing number of activities throughout our branches and chapters in the UK and internationally.

I can see that 2014 is shaping up to be the busiest year ever for our members with events involving clients and public outreach.