Archive: SDK Sydney Decimus Kitson Archive
Reference Number: SDK/1/2/1/10
Page: 6 verso
Press cutting regarding the Royal Institute of British Architects (R.I.B.A.)
The press cutting discusses the significance of architecture as a profession, and the centenary volume on R.I.B.A which a variety of writers have contributed to, including Sydney D. Kitson.
Date: 1934 - 1935
The Times, Nov: 2. 1934
A CENTENARY HISTORY
THE GROWTH AND WORK OF THE ROYAL INSTITUTE OF BRITISH ARCHITECTS, 1834-1934. Edited by J. A. GOTCH. (R.I.B.A 5s. net.)
Being a profession as well as an art, with legal, economic, and industrial contacts and responsibilities, architecture lends itself much better to organization than do, for example, the arts of painting and sculpture. That is the moral of this volume published by the R.I.B.A. on the eve of its migration to its new headquarters in Portland Place, which the King will open formally on November 8. It is the history of a great profession, aware of its great responsibilities, to the country as well as to itself, organizing itself from within and by the will of its members.
In his foreword to the volume Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the President, says that "one of the most striking things about the history of the Institute... is that nothing has been attempted that has not in time being achieved" Of the things attempted nothing is more significant of the twofold nature of architecture, as an art and a profession, than the Registraion of Architects, which received the Royal Assent on July 31, 1931, and came into force on January 1, 1932. Registration of artists, as such, would of course be absurd. It is only necessary to think of Wren to see that any preserve of all the talents might at any moment be jumped, if not to legal effect at any rate to the confusion of the preserved, by an outsider of genius. Art, as such, knows nothing of tests by examination. But a body of professional men and women is quite another matter, and architecture as an art has nothing to lose, and the public has everything to gain, by the requirements that its members shall be properly trained and willing to conform to the establishment of "an uniformity and respectability of practice in the profession"-to quote one of the objects of the Institute of Architects as its formation a hundred years ago. As Mr.H.M. Fletcher reminds us in his chapter on "Architectural Education," there is a system of prizes and scholarships by which it is possible for boys and girls of no private means to work up from the elementary schools to the higher regions of architectural training.
It is evident from the very first the architects of this country were more or less consciously aware of the need for organization. As Mr. Gotch tells us, the first atempts-the Architects' Club, initiated at the Thatched House Tavern in 1791; the Surveyors' Club, of the following year and still existing; the London Architectural Society, of 1806, and the Architectural Society, of 1831-were partial and, in some cases, pedantically exclusive. But they were getting "warmer" to what was really required, and by the end of 1834, under the style of the "Institute of British Architects," under the presidency of Earl de Grey, what is now the R.I.B.A. was definitely launched. Its Charter of Incorporation was granted in 1836, though it did not become "Royal" until some years later. In April, 1846, the gift of a Royal God Medal was announced, and its first recipient was Charles Robert Cockerell, R.A., who was also the first architect president of the R.I.B.A. The first quarters of the Institute were at 43, King Street, Covent Garden-otherwise Evan's hotel, the scene of the "Cave of Harmony"; in 1837 a move was made to 16, Lower Grosvenor Street, and there the headquarters remained until the removal to Conduit Street in 1859.
Various writers contribute special chapters to teh centenary volume. Mr. E. Bertram Kirby writes on the Allied Societies; Mr. Harry Barnes on Registraion; Mr. Henry Vaughan Lanchester on Architectural Competition; Mr. Charles Woodward on Professional Practice; Miss Elizabeth H. Mann on the Architects' Benevolent Society; and so forth. The Library of the R.I.B.A.- "The most historical and personal collection of architectural books in the world"- is dealt with by Mr. Sydney D. Kitson; and its Journal by Mr. Edward Carter. This is a history of the profession and not of architecture, but Professor H.S. Goodhart-Rendel contributes a racy survey of "English Architects amd Architecture since 1834," stopping short of the mention of architects still in practice. He concludes by saying that "a backward glance over the last hundred years, if it do nothing else, may remind us profitably of much devoted pursuit of aesthetic sensitiveness on the part of people perhaps not so very much stupider than ourselves." The book ends with a series of portraits of all the Presidents of the R.I.B.A., with brief biographical notes, and there are pictures of the successive headquarters, including the new building in Portland Place.