The role of the RIBA is to promote architecture rather than the interests of its members. These are inextricably linked, but in promoting architecture, Goldschmied's most obvious achievement has been to have the Stirling Prize televised. As he said early in his presidency: "It's ridiculous that there is a television programme about a book prize, but not one about an architectural award." Televising the Stirling Prize has done a lot to raise the profile of architecture as something everyone should have an opinion about. My personal view is that the award did not really do enough to stress the team nature of the building process and I'm not convinced that the right building won. However, it will be better next year, and I hope more people will watch it. It was a pity that a move to extend the presidency for a third year fell by the wayside, although Goldschmied is probably much relieved.
What of the three candidates? Alex Reid was director-general of the RIBA for several years. He has taught architecture but is not a practising architect and has never built a building. Of course you don't need to be a neurosurgeon to run the British Medical Association, but I can't believe that a bit of hands-on experience isn't a requirement for this post. Reid is running on a management ticket. He has ruffled a great many feathers at the institute and many fewer people are now employed there than there used to be. He is famously not on Goldschmied's wavelength and it is unlikely he will follow Marco's initiatives with the same vigour.
It was a pity that a move to extend Goldschmied’s presidency for a third year fell by the wayside
At the other end of the spectrum is Brian Godfrey, who runs a small practice in Devon. He has no great reputation as a designer, and he has professed his scorn for the London-centred nature of the RIBA. Elections always throw up some rural maverick and Godfrey is ours. He promises to do something for the regions, but what can a relatively small player with any kind of practice to run realistically do? The third candidate is Paul Hyett, an active figure in the RIBA. He is a practising architect, and although not in the RRP league (who is?) he is energetic and determined to see that small practices get a look in when publicly funded work is handed out. He is also a keen supporter of Goldschmied and will keep up the good work.
Nobody outside the profession really gives a damn about the problems of architects in general or the president of the RIBA in particular. Architects famously spend their time squabbling and whingeing about their role being eroded, when they should be getting their act together and seeing that the other people who earn their livelihoods in the industry can get on with it.
Gus Alexander runs his own architectural practice in Clerkenwell, London.