August 31

The Royal Australian Institute of Architects has a bet each way

Another, another shameful, elitist attack on the great Australian suburb, this time from a body we thought would know better,” thundered the Editor of The Australian on 29 August 2008.

The Editor said Royal Australian Institute of Architects president Howard Tanner  was “ demanding a moratorium on outer suburban development in Sydney and Melbourne.”

“To add insult to injury,” he continued, ”Mr Tanner delivered his slanderous attack on the 100th anniversary of Sir Donald Bradman's birth.”

“Answer this Mr Tanner: would Bradman have become the world's greatest sportsman without a backyard and a raintank against which to practise his strokes?

“No, we thought not. Our message to the architectural elite is blunt: just take your bat and ball and go home.”

…but  is this The Royal Australian Institute of Architects, or some other body?..


But is it or is it not the Royal Australian Institute of Architects?  Are they putting a foot in both camps, republican and monarchist?

You see back in July the Royal Australian Institute of Architects said it had “introduced” a new name, not that it had changed its name.

website says it is “letting go the ‘Royal’ to become the Australian Institute of Architects.”

The National President, Howard Tanner, said it was a move heralded by market research evaluating the organisation’s relevance and how it was perceived by the profession, the building sector, government and the public.

“The research findings clearly showed that the word ‘Royal’ was seen as out of touch and not of contemporary relevance, so for everyday use, we will trade under the new name,” said Mr Tanner.

Now is it or isn’t it the “ Royal” Australian Institute?

A much sought after appellation, The Queen and the Governor-General accord this honour rarely.

So we do hope that the Institute has requested Her Majesty’s approval to putting the word “ Royal”  in cold storage, to be wheeled out whenever  they think it would be useful.

Not to inform Her Majesty would not constitute the crime of lèse majesté, but it would certainly be discourteous.

When the Royal Women’s Hospital last year put a large and embarrassing sign on their roof declaring themselves “The Women’s ", ACM’s Victorian Convenor, Brett Hogan, pointed out this was the opposite of good branding.

 "Good branding tells you exactly what the product is" Brett Hogan said.  “ The Women’s sounds like a toilet." 

"Royal Women's Hospital tells me that it is an esteemed and high quality hospital for women."

"Royal Australian Institute of Architects tells me that it is an esteemed and high quality professional body for architects."

 He asked if the RAIA wanted to stop using their Royal then why they didn’t renounce it completely. Is their position political spin, or are they hedging their bets? 

Perhaps the architects don’t want to run the risk another organisation setting itself up as the new RAIA.

Either way, it looks like an organisation unsure of itself and its future.  


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