Roger Zogolovitch seeks to force special general meeting to reconsider abolition
A simmering row over the scrapping of the RIBA Trust threatened to escalate into civil war this week as four former presidents vowed to challenge the move.
Richard MacCormac, Max Hutchinson, George Ferguson and Owen Luder all spoke out in support of former trustee Roger Zogolovitch after he launched plans to “reinstate” the trust by forcing Portland Place to hold a special general meeting on the matter.
Zogolovitch, who needs signatures from 280 chartered members in order to trigger the meeting, argues the abolition of the trust threatens the RIBA’s promotion of architecture and that its independence was vital to the curatorship of the world’s most important collection of architectural artefacts.
He has also won support from fellow former trustee Christophe Egret and honorary librarian Paul Davis, while former RIBA presidents Jack Pringle and Paul Hyett are also considering joining the campaign.
”I worried about the RIBA’s ability to maintain its scholarly commitments”
The developments pose a serious challenge to the authority of RIBA chief executive Harry Rich, who wants to see the creation of “One RIBA” and has masterminded the changes.
“My feeling is that [scrapping the trust] was not a good move,” said MacCormac, who led the RIBA from 1991-93. “When I was president I was always worried about the RIBA’s ability to maintain its scholarly commitments like the library.
“There is always a tension between its commitment to its members and its commitment to architecture.”
The trust was formally wound up on December 31 just days after Rich was warned by Luder that he risked sparking a “very damaging internal conflict”.
BD understands Rich and president Ruth Reed are now attempting to limit this by meeting former trustees in person to explain the reasoning behind the reforms.
President-elect Angela Brady said she supported Rich’s efforts to simplify the RIBA but conceded that they had not been “properly explained”.
“The RIBA collection is a fantastic asset and that is not going to change,” she said. “I am in favour of the ’One RIBA’ Harry has put forward. There were too many groups within the RIBA… it was so complicated with one part lending money to another part and so on.
“I think we need to sit round a table and Harry needs to explain exactly what difference this is going to make. That needs to happen before a campaign goes flying off in the wrong direction.”
In a separate development this week, RIBA director of communications Roula Konzotis announced she was leaving after 11 years with the organisation.