Practices told to send in expressions of interest by 1 February

The RIBA has given firms until the beginning of next month to send in expressions of interest to carry out a makeover of its historic central London headquarters.

The hotly anticipated contest, which is only open to RIBA chartered practices, will be run in two stages with finalists called for competitive interviews.

The institute has been at its 66 Portland Place base since 1934 after outgrowing its previous home of more than 70 years at 9 Conduit Street, just off Regent Street.

In a note setting out its plans for the revamp, the RIBA said: “As Lead Architect, the selected practice will help to develop design options, costs and feasibility for the full refurbishment of the building. It will be expected to manage the project, co-ordinate the design team members and determine next steps of the strategic masterplan.” The first phase of work has been given a budget of £20m.

RIBA, 66 Portland Place

Source: Philip Vile

The building was listed more than 50 years ago

Up to six practices will be shortlisted for the work with the winner chosen by a panel headed by RIBA president Simon Allford who added: “This presents a great opportunity for a practice to join our team and play a key role in the transformation of 66 Portland Place into an accessible 21st century building, and an exemplar of re-use and sustainable design.

“The building will be a physical stage for our ‘House of Architecture’ concept – a space where members, visitors and RIBA colleagues can find inspiration, stimulation and make connections.”

Allford vowed to give the building a top-to-bottom overhaul when he took over as president last year and he told his first meeting of the governing council last September that the 88-year-old block was “tired” and inaccessible and needed to be brought up to modern standards.

Firms have until 1 February to send in expressions of interest with shortlisted teams given a £5,000 honorarium. A shortlist will be drawn up on 24 February with shortlisted teams presenting their plans on 31 March. A winner will be announced the following week.

The others on the jury are Simone de Gale, RIBA board member and honorary treasurer; Liam McConnell, RIBA head of estates and facilities; Murray Orr, RIBA board member (business and enterprise); Jack Pringle, chair of the RIBA board; MaryAnne Stevens, RIBA board member (heritage); Alan Vallance, RIBA chief executive and Sarah Williams, RIBA architect adviser.

When the RIBA first proposed moving to 66 Portland Place in 1929, nearly 300 submissions were received for the design. The winning proposal was by British architect George Grey Wornum with the six-storey, art deco-style structure given a grade II* listing in 1970.