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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Former RIAS president Gordon Murray has branded the incorporation’s decision to kill off plans to move out of its headquarters in Rutland Square, Edinburgh, as a victory for ‘neo-conservatives’.

Last week the RIAS council decided against proposals to relocate from its current home, a Georgian townhouse, to Reiach and Hall’s award-winning Evolution House office development in West Point (pictured above).

The decision comes almost four years after a relocation working group began looking into the incorporation’s accommodation and accessibility needs – an investigation supported by the late Andy Doolan.

Now Murray, a key member of the group and an advocate of a possible move to Evolution House, has hit out at the councillors who pooh-poohed the proposals.

He said: ‘[The] recommendations’ failure to find majority support within Council members by a narrow margin resulting from block voting confirms that neo-conservatism is alive and well in the profession.

‘It is unlikely that this group will accept anything short of a restoration of Rutland Square as a renewed RIAS HQ.’

He added: ‘I don’t think the idea of moving headquarters is completely dead, just that we no longer have the window of opportunity to move into Evolution House. That has now gone.’

However, Edinburgh-based architect Benjamin Tindall believes the relocation plans were never going to win favour with the majority of members.

He said: ‘It was a crazy suggestion and the people who were proposing it should be considering their position.

‘There is a general consensus of everybody across the RIAS that it was financially crazy to give up this asset. It’s all to do with image.’

Tindall concluded: ‘A lot was made about the accessibility of Rutland Square, but the new proposal was even more inaccessible. You can’t even get close to the front door there.’
Fantastic news. The move was a very poor deal and this should provide a chance to apply a bit of imagination to the issue rather than simply take the cash short term and move to a location that does nothing to raise the profile of the profession.
 

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smalltown boy
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I didn't know that they'd given up the idea. I was quite in favour of the move. Aside from the fact that it's a great building (fits very well into the old town, but still refreshingly modern, bright and spacious on the inside, brilliant views, and finished to a high standard (apart from some cracked marble on the floor)) it would have enabled RIAS to get some office accommodation that suited their needs somewhat better than a Georgian townhouse. Cafe, bookshop and other public face type operations would have been shared with the Art College, and thus hopefully open for longer hours than their current (tiny) bookshop. And quite what Ben "Prince Charles' favourite Scottish architect" Tindall is talking about re the front door I have no idea.

What would you have them do instead outofchaos?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This will only just have been voted on. The last meeting was reportedly an interesting affair with many hackles having been raised by the whole thing and indeed it has been said that the Edinburgh lot were carrying (metaphorical) burning torches and pitchforks such was their opposition.

For me the issue is not so much the move its the fact that this particular deal has been very hastily put forward and the other options have not been examined in enough detail. Add that to the fact that the rental was very high indeed combined with the loss of the asset that Rutland Square is and it didnt stack up. Now they have of course been at it for a number of years and in that time have failed to really examine anything in enough detail but invoking Doolan was a bit odd given that IIRC the option he championed was a custom built solution.

What is needed isnt a portion of a spec office building. What is needed is an equivalent to The Lighthouse and thats something that surely Edinburgh can support (though the sensible solution would have been for them to move through to the Lighthouse when it was built). Now that probably isnt on the cards but something more visible surely has to be.

There is no doubt that there are entrnched positions on both sides but its disappointing to see the debate getting carried over into media mud-slinging.
 

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With the likely imminent redevelopment of the Glasgow School of Art campus, and the majority of the major practices being based in Glasgow, surely this is both a fantastic opportunity to link practice and education more closely together, and secondly to better serve a larger portion of the membership in a more immediate manner?
 

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that's a very interesting point momus, only because the architects from edinburgh who objected to the move to evolution house would probably shit themselves if a move to glasgow was suggested and seriously considered.

Maybe now though it should be put on the table, I would certainly support it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Not sure about the GSA. Having links with one particular school would be as wrong as promoting one particular practice. We have an architecture centre that was, at one time, partially funded by the RIAS and which is having a token branded bookshop/shelf. Office space, exhibition space, bar, what more could they want? Sadly the logic of being based in Glasgow means nothing in the face of the politics of the organisation.
 

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I had considered the view that a closer link with a particular school could be construed wrongly, however I believe that ultimately the benefits would outweigh any narrowmindedness that might exist. A closer understanding of practice needs in parallel with direct links to any school would allow a better quality of graduate and therefore unfluence and improve the profession as a whole. Lessons learnt could be applied throughout the other schools of architecture in Scotland.

Really though, I don't see it as being any different to Universities having close links to industry whereby they essentially exploit each other for mutual benefit.

Parochial behaviour really gets on my t*ts. We the members are the RIAS, no-one else, so we should vote with our feet and not allow self interest to rule.
 

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maccoinnich , I agree it is a great building, not a commercial building at all in that sense. I have judged it for awards and written about it.

It is a unequivocally contemporary building right in the heart of Edinburgh suitable for modern use as an office, exhibition and meeting space, to be shared by another respected art institution, the College of Art.

It was a poor move by the council and knocked back work that had been in discussion and development for ten years.
 

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Momus I say that as someone who would like to see the RIAS moved to Glasgow and ex council member who visits the rabbit warren that is rutland square and has frequently seen the conditions that people have to work in. Last week I had to lift a visitor up the stair to the bookshop.

What kind of message does that give out to the world about the profession in Scotland?

The idea also of having a competition to design a new headquarters is fanciful anyone who has tried to get a new building built in Ediburgh these days of any quality and interest and is not a sop for or compromise to the heritage police will know what I mean. How reiach and hall managed it is beyond me.
 

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I don't know if its a reflection on me, or the RIAS in general, that I have only ever been in the building twice since I joined many moons ago. Once for a meeting and once because I happened to be passing and stuck my head in the door to see what was happening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well links with schools and how the profession connects with its education is an entire other can of worms and sadly is not one that the RIAS is ever likely to solve. A lot of that is down to the practices and there is a lot of mutual benefit in doing so, particularly if you are getting into R&D.

The problem we have in Scotland is that the Edniburgh self-interest lobby can claim that since they are the 'capital' (as if that means anything) its not being parochial. Its only going to get worse now that its an allegedly real centre of power. The fact that they could a similar spec of space for what they were getting Evolution for in Glasgow for only a fraction of what they were going to be paying for the deal that was on the table doesnt seem to register.
 

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ad at home said:
The idea also of having a competition to design a new headquarters is fanciful anyone who has tried to get a new building built in Ediburgh these days of any quality and interest and is not a sop for or compromise to the heritage police will know what I mean. How reiach and hall managed it is beyond me.
They still had to compromise though - the line of the World Heritage site actually runs right down the middle of the adjacent street (Lady Lawson Street), and so they had comply with some fairly stringent conditions. The saddest one is that they to lower the height of one of the stair cores, which means that although it is possible to get onto the roof (which has amongst the best views you'll get anywhere, and lots of pretty sea-pinks growing amongst the rocks) due to fire regulations requiring two means of escape, it can never be used for its intended public function. Other things like the pattern of the fenestration had to be changed a lot.

Of course, it is completely arbitrary to say that one side of street has one set of planning rules and the other another. Lets see if the new Michael Laird building, which is due to replace the decaying block across the street is anywhere near as good. I doubt it.

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On a different note, not everything needs be in Glasgow just because it has a bigger population. RIAS was founded in Edinburgh, and it seems that is where they want to stay.

Alan is right - a new building is indeed fanciful thinking. At least they didn't pursue the option of moving in A+DS and whoever else. Got to keep your bodies separate. Sure, the move to Evolution House might have been rushed, but when you have an opportunity like that you have to take it quickly if you want it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
maccoinnich said:
Sure, the move to Evolution House might have been rushed, but when you have an opportunity like that you have to take it quickly if you want it.
And they didnt. The problem with doing anything in a rush is that you are likely you get stung and unless the move is overwhelmingly advantageous or your current circumstances demand an immediate move there is no point rushing.

Edinburgh doesnt seem short of free office space just now. This is not the only option.
 

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smalltown boy
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I'm not a member of RIAS, so my opinion wasn't taken into account (obviously), and the membership has clearly rejected it. I also don't know what they would have been paying if they moved. But having rejected it, and the status quo clearly being less than ideal, they may find they've missed a good choice.

And of course there is plenty of office space, but what was unique was the combination of who they'd be sharing with and letting it from (the ECA) and the quality of the building, which is so much higher than 40 Princes St, Waverley Gate, or any empty buildings in Edinburgh.
 

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Plans for student flats next to nightclub get go-ahead
PLANS to develop student flats just metres from a popular nightclub have been given the go-ahead despite concerns from residents.

The council's environmental services department had warned that noise from people entering and leaving the nearby Studio 24 club could cause a nuisance to tenants in the new properties, and had recommended the application be refused. But these concerns were dismissed by the council's planning committee, who last week agreed to grant the application.

The decision comes despite heavy criticism of the development, with heritage groups saying the design was not suitable for such a historic part of the city, while residents compared the buildings to army barracks. Developer Unite Group now has permission to build 59 flats next door to Studio 24 on a gap-site between Calton Road and the Canongate.

The student accommodation will have a ground-floor office and four floors of flats.

Almost two dozen objections to the scheme were sent to the council, with the Canongate Community Council describing the plans as "reminiscent of the worst architectural excesses of the German Democratic Republic in the middle of the last century". Gillian McArthur, whose family owns and runs Studio 24, said: "Something needs to be built in that site, and as long as the flats are properly soundproofed there will not be a problem. "

This article: http://news.scotsman.com/edinburgh.cfm?id=764252006

I've taken this from yesterday's Scotsman, needless to say it's one of our projects that is going to ruin Edinburgh. A project so tame and frankly innoffensive, we hav'nt even put it on our website.

What chance an new RIAS Headquarters, a building that should be radical , challenging and forward thinking and even downright rude? No chance.
 

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It's not our building, we would'nt have designed it like it is given the chance. A forced compromise, so no.........sorry. :)
 

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To an outsider, this whole RIAS HQ pochle must look like total madness.

Moving out of a building you own in order to lease premises owned by someone else, is akin to killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Once you've spun through your capital, what then? Revenue from the members, that's what. Subscriptions will be raised accordingly- £400? £500? £600? Edinburgh rentals aren't cheap.

I know that's a gross over-simplification, but it does look as if architects aren't good with money. Which is fine so long as it's someone else's... but not fine when it's our own. ;)
 

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you're not comparing like with like wolfman, I'm sorry but you're not. The RIAS may own the building but it is not satifying their organisational needs. It does not comply with modern access requirements, it is cramped, and the working conditions are terrible.
 

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OK, playing devil's advocate for a second, the RIAS could adapt the building- I'm sure it would be a good demonstration of how sensitively architects can adapt old building stock to modern requirements. Ramps at the front? Lift at the back? The RIAS staff roll is decreasing... so the firetrap attic, and the damp and dingy basement could probably be vacated by staff in the meantime. The regular regime of maintenance which was agreed during Ian Dickson's era as president could be carried out properly- flashing repairs, window refurb's, et al.

One would imagine that a building which hasn't been adapted will be worth less to sell, or to rent to someone else, since a potential purchaser or lessee will be faced with exactly the same problems as the RIAS are now. So the money wouldn't be wasted, whether or not the RIAS stay at Rutland Square for good- it would be a useful investment.

If you do decide to sell, you could turn the building back into a toonhoose again- or convert it into flats, since that may generate more value than trying to sell it as offices? Just a thought.

I've not got any stake in should they stay or should they go other than being a footsoldier in the chapters, but surely if they go, they should buy someplace to live, rather than relying on the tender mercies of a landlord. It seems like the economics of the daftie otherwise, and may end up in a skint RIAS having to rush into the arms of a saviour (Portland Place) when the cash runs out.

Which wouldn't be ideal.
 
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