September 2, 2007
by Canadian Architect
Sunand Prasad, Founding Partner of Penoyre and Prasad Architects, became President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on September 1st, 2007. Prasad is the 72nd RIBA President, a position previously held by Sir G. Gilbert Scott, Sir William Tite, and Sir Basil Spence, among others. He takes over the two-year presidency from Jack Pringle, who becomes Immediate Past President.
Prasad stated: As it approaches its 175th anniversary, the RIBA seems to me to be more relevant than ever to ensuring that society gets sustainable buildings and places designed to improve people’s lives in an increasingly connected world. I am looking forward enormously to the challenge of making the RIBA ever more effective, primarily through its most precious assets: the knowledge and commitment of its 40,000 members and its international reach.
My priorities will be to expand the action already under way by the institute on climate change, to make stronger links with other professions in the construction industry and beyond so that we are a more powerful influence on government, and to make the RIBA the natural magnet for anyone, and especially young people, with a passion for architecture.
Prasad will give his inaugural presidential address in November at the City of London Academy, the award-winning school in Bermondsey.
Sunand Prasad MA, AA Dip, PhD, RIBA, FRSA was born in 1950 in Dehra Dun in the Himalayan foothills. He spent most of the first 12 years of his life in Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashram in Sevagram, central India. His family came to England in 1962 and he went to secondary modern and grammar school in north London. He studied architecture at the University of Cambridge and the Architectural Association schools of architecture. From 1976 to 1984 he worked with Edward Cullinan Architects, leaving to combine practice and research. He was one of the 40 under 40 architects in the 1985 exhibition of that name. At the same time, he commenced a study of north Indian courtyard houses and urban form as a research fellow at the Royal College of Art, leading to a doctorate in 1988.
Gregory Penoyre and Sunand Prasad had worked together at Edward Cullinan Architects and shared office space as sole practitioners for a few months before setting up as Penoyre & Prasad in 1988. The practice first built a reputation through winning RIBA Awards in 1990 and 1991 with domestic projects. It then became known for its health-care designs which have been exhibited widely. Penoyre & Prasad have gone on to design a wide variety of building types, from community to commercial, winning over 40 awards for their work, which has been widely published. The practice has also built a reputation for contributing more widely to professional knowledge through taking part in industry reform and research initiatives.
Prasad has served on the RIBA Awards Group, chaired a number of awards and competition panels, set up the Constructive Change group and has been a Royal Gold Medal and RIBA Stirling Prize juror. He was elected to RIBA Council in 2004, is a member of the RIBA Board and was most recently Vice President for Policy and Strategy.
In 1999, Prasad was appointed as one of the first six CABE Commissioners and launched its Enabling Programme. He has been closely involved in developing CABE’s Corporate Strategy and has chaired a number of Project Steering Groups. Most recently he has been chair of the CABE Skills Programme, stepping down at the completion of his two terms as Commissioner in July 2006.
Prasad has played a leading role in developing the Construction Industry Council’s Design Quality Indicator (DQI). This work is part of his passionate commitment to developing a language for discussing design that all can share and a way of showing the value that good design brings to life.
Through most of his career, Prasad has been involved in architectural teaching and has served as external examiner on a number of courses. Currently, he is a member of the Cambridge University School of Architecture Advisory Committee.
Prasad’s published writings include essays on Le Corbusier, North Indian urbanism, culture and identity, the value of design, architects and the construction industry as well as a number of book and building reviews. He is author of Transformations, a monograph on the work of Penoyre & Prasad (published September 2007) and the managing editor of a forthcoming book on hospital architecture.