The battle for the RIBA presidency is hotting up, as the first black female candidate faces stiff competition from a respected Bristol architect and a champion of the small practice
If Building's cover star Annette Fisher is to create history in becoming the first black female president of the RIBA, she will have to see off the challenges of fellow architects David Thorp and George Ferguson.

Ferguson has experience on his side and he poses the greater threat to Fisher's chance of winning. He is founder and director of Bristol architect Ferguson Mann and has come into wide contact with architects all over the country through his involvement with Acanthus Architects, the national network of practitioners.

Excessive government regulation and industry standardisation are Ferguson's bugbears. If elected, he promises to defend regional character in the face of centralisation and uniformity and challenge fee bidding and procurement methods that threaten the quality of architecture. Ferguson says he would carry out a review into what RIBA actually does for its members and will lead a concerted drive towards building quality and sustainability in tandem with CABE and English Heritage.

His manifesto also calls for more co-operation with other industry bodies when lobbying the government, and more research and self-assessment CPD. Better architectural education is on the agenda and Ferguson wishes to encourage more local community involvement in the built environment. Ferguson has already appeared on TV promoting architecture and he promises to raise the profile of architecture through more media exposure.

Third challenger David Thorp will champion the cause of the small practice if elected president. He wants a more inclusive organisation, and says he will attempt to reach out to architects working in poorer parts of the UK and in minority communities. Thorp is calling for a more global and sustainable approach to building that looks beyond Europe for inspiration.

Annette Fisher also says she'll support the smaller practice by lobbying the government to give them more public work. Fisher believes that the key to boosting the profile of architecture is to make the government aware of the value of design through greater participation and coverage on major government issues. The RIBA would take a stronger line on major planning issues under Fisher, particularly with London mayor Ken Livingstone.

Fisher will know if she is to become the first female RIBA president in its 168-year history when members vote at the end of May.