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Architects rebuilding

November 24, 2016 23:22

As damage limitation exercises go, Riba's unexpected U-turn on its Israel policy may prove to be too little, too late.

There were a number of factors behind the decision announced by the institute's president, Stephen Hodder, but whether remorse was among them remains unclear.

It was obvious even back in March that Mr Hodder and his executive were completely caught out by Riba's council sneaking the anti-Israel measure through.

The threat of the Charity Commission investigating whether the institute breached its charitable remit by taking a political position on Israel was one of the key reasons for the turnaround.

There were financial implications, too. What began with a few cancelled simchas at Riba's impressive Portland Place headquarters could have led to more sizeable backers taking their money elsewhere.

A lack of international support was also noticeable. The International Union of Architects gave the idea of suspending its Israeli members very short shrift. Ironically, it is the Israeli architects themselves who are likely to move on quicker than anyone. They were never as exercised by the issue as were their supporters worldwide.

It is worth noting that, like the Tricycle Theatre's climbdown over its boycott of the UK Jewish Film Festival earlier this year, the institute has offered no outright public apology for its actions.

Ultimately, this was not only about Jewish architects and supporters of Israel feeling singled out. Questions were asked throughout the industry about the way Riba was being run. The reputational damage could take years to repair.

November 24, 2016 23:22

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