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THE YEAR 2005 marks the 75th anniversary of the incorporation of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects as the national organization serving architects and the architectural profession throughout Australia. In 2005 its primary objective, “uniting architects to advance architecture”, is still as valid as it was at the date of its incorporation in 1930. However, the path to the formation of a national institute was not easy. It took many years of proposals, meetings and discussions to overcome the vested interests that invariably supported the status quo of the state-based institutes.

As many of us who have been involved in the management of organizations well know, substantive change does not come about without a champion to create the vision and to then have the determination to ensure that it is implemented. For the RAIA, the person with the vision and the determination was Alfred Samuel Hook. Many others supported the concept and ideals of a national body of Australian architects, but none of them can approach the contribution to the cause made by Hook.

Alfred Hook initiated the formation of the New South Wales Architects Association in 1918 and was elected its President in 1922. In that position, he began the move that led to its amalgamation with the Institute of Architects of New South Wales, thereby unifying the profession in that state. He immediately became Vice President of the Institute in NSW, and in 1926 he became its President. For the next three years, Hook worked tirelessly to bring about the formation of an Australian body of architects. He wrote and spoke widely on the necessity for such an organization. He argued with its opponents, pleaded with supporters to get involved and stimulated interest among those who were apathetic. He produced proposal after proposal to address a never-ending series of difficulties and obstacles, and he composed the Articles of Association and the Memorandum of Agreement eventually adopted by the RAIA.

Hook’s selfless dedication and untiring efforts led, after years of talk, indecision, apathy and suspicion, to general agreement being reached among a majority of the State Institutes in 1929, and then, on 18 November 1930, to the formal incorporation of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects as a national entity. He was elected the first President of the new body late in 1929 and occupied the post during its first year of operation in 1930. From that year continuously until 1946 he served it as Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer and Registrar, often holding two or even three of the positions simultaneously. Through his efforts, the Institute not only held together but survived and became accepted by the profession, the government and the community in general. It is therefore appropriate that Alfred Hook is referred to today as the “father of the Institute”.

While Alfred Hook played a pivotal role in the formation of the Institute, in the years since 1930 many others have worked towards his dream. Today, 75 years later, the RAIA is a vibrant organization focused on the needs of architects and the architectural profession. Along the way, the RAIA has developed into an organization with an operating budget of approximately $10 million per annum, supported by a range of subsidiaries that turn over another $10 million each year. Each of these subsidiaries, governed by their own board, provides a range of services to RAIA members.

The Institute’s insurance subsidiary, IBL Limited, trading as RAIA Professional Risk Services, undertakes a vital role in the provision of professional insurance and risk management services to architects. Another subsidiary, Archicentre, is now the largest home inspection service in Australia (undertaking in excess of 18,000 reports per year) and through its client introduction service leads to architectural commissions totalling around $64 million in fees each year. Its own subsidiary, Archicentre Services, will shortly begin a roll-out of franchises for pest inspection and maintenance services. The RAIA’s publishing subsidiary, Architecture Media, from its formation in 1987 has now expanded to publish not only Architecture Australia, but Houses, Architectural Product News and Artichoke, as well as jointly initiating the web-based products guide

Each of these subsidiaries started with a champion such as Alfred Hook, a person who persevered with an idea until all opposition was minimized and the vision became a reality. Today the RAIA is indebted to those members who never took no for an answer and worked until their hopes and aspirations were realized.

In our 75th year, we still need champions like Alfred Hook and those who established subsidiaries of the RAIA. The success of the Institute is due in no small part to the contribution of these members and those who have supported the quest to implement their vision. On behalf of our National Council, I urge you to become more actively involved in the RAIA and to become either one of our champions or one of their supporters, so that in another 75 years, we may again reflect on the accomplishments of an Institute that continues to “unite architects to advance architecture”.




Published online: 1 Mar 2005


Architecture Australia, March 2005

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