Welcome to the British Architectural Library Trust, formerly known as the American Friends of the British Architectural Library (AFBAL). Here you can find further details on how to join a group of supporters who help protect and nurture one of the world’s greatest architectural collections and promote collaborations with the Royal Institute of British Architects through cultural activities in the US.

Webinar: The Palladio Series

RIBA, in association with the Centro Andrea Palladio in Vicenza, Italy, recently announced
Palladio: A Complete Catalogue of Drawings in British Collections — the first “systematic
reassessment of every Palladio drawing now in British Collections” offering new
perspectives on the enormously influential 16th Century Renaissance Architect, Andrea
Palladio (1508-1580) and “unrivaled access to the drawings for a new generation of
international scholars, students, architects and the wider public”.

In celebration of this announcement and to draw attention to the wide array of current and
ongoing research into Palladio’s work as recorded in these comprehensive archives, our
inaugural webinar series will launch in Winter Spring 2022 with four lectures.
The lectures begin with renowned scholar Guido Beltramini’s introduction to this
uncommon collection, which includes not only an array of polished presentation drawings,
but also early sketches with corrections and notations offering scholars special insight into
Palladio’s thought process. The series continues with presentations of Palladio’s influence in
Britain and America, both historically and today, closing with a lecture by renowned
architect Peter Eisenman, whose fascination with Palladio is documented in his recent book,
Palladio Virtuel.

Details regarding speakers, dates and times for lectures will be posted here when they are

Visit to The Department Store, Brixton on Thursday 24 January 2019

American Friends are welcome to join us in the afternoon of Thursday 24 January 2019 to see a project that took an unoccupied and dilapidated former department store from 1906 and reimagined the building to create a series of inspiring work and social places. Through Squire and Partners’ sensitive restoration, you will see how this architectural practice, workshop and rooftop restaurant/bar has given the building a new lease of life.

For more information or to RSVP please contact Arina Zharikova on +44 (0) 20 7307 3701 or Patrons@riba.org.

The Department Store by Squire & Partners Architecture © James Jones

Winter Drinks Reception and RIBA+Vitra Talk on Wednesday 28 November 2018

Alan Vallance, RIBA Chief Executive, invites American Friends to join us for the inaugural talk of the RIBA + VitrA Intergenerational Dialogues series. The series focuses on established architects and their contemporary counterparts. Kate Macintosh, who spent much of her career working for local authorities, will be in conversation with Mary Duggan who is currently working with Brick by Brick, a development company established by Croydon Council, to build high quality and affordable housing for the borough.

For more information or to RSVP please contact Arina Zharikova on +44 (0) 20 7307 3701 or Patrons@riba.org.

Winter Drinks Reception and RIBA plus Vitra Talk Intergenerational Dialogues by Kate Mackintosh and Mary Duggan. Images: Mary Duggan. Kate Macintosh © Ivan Jones

The Pantheon in focus, an evening of discovery in New York on Tuesday 16 October 2018

American Friends are welcome to join us for an evening of exploration into the Pantheon in Rome as discovered through the architectural holdings in the MET museum and the RIBA Collections.

Beatrice Galilee, Daniel Brodsky Associate Curator of Architecture and Design, will lead a discussion followed by a drinks reception on Tuesday 16th October from 6.30 – 8pm kindly hosted by the New York showroom of the Italian furniture maker, Arper.

Beatrice will be speaking about the way in which representations of the Pantheon have been collected and illustrated throughout multiple departments at the MET and through the RIBA Collections, from artefacts and casts to drawings, paintings and contemporary photographs and the famous Goldschmidt Scrapbooks. The message of the Pantheon’s existence and its immaculate state began during the years of the Grand Tour and it has rightly remained one of the most famous and visited examples of ancient architecture. Beatrice will share her research discoveries from both collections’ archives.

Please  RSVP to Emily.deVismes@riba.org if you are able to join us as security will need to check your name from a list.

Topographical perspective drawing of the Pantheon, in Rome by Cuthbert Brodrick (1822-1905) from 1862. © RIBA Collections

Highgate Home Visits on Thursday 11 October 2018

American Friends are welcome to join us in the afternoon of Thursday 11 October for a personal and exclusive tour of two private homes by their owners and architects in Highgate. 6 Wood Lane is a RIBA London Award 2017 winning new build with a distinctly nautical design and Highpoint II is a striking and sensitively renovated Duplex apartment in a 1930s modernist Berthold Lubetkin designed residential block.

For more information, please contact Arina Zharikova on 020 7307 3701 or via patrons@riba.org.

Wood Lane
An Interior at Wood Lane © Nick Kane



Spotlight on Building Modern Britain: Tour and Reception at the Royal College of Physicians on Wednesday 12 September 2018

American Friends are welcome to join the RIBA Patrons of Architecture for a Spotlight on Building Modern Britain Tour and Reception at the Royal College of Physicians on Wednesday 12 September 2018, 5pm to 8pm.

The Royal College of Physicians in Regent’s Park is considered to be one of architect Denys Lasdun’s most successful creations. Barnabas Calder, a historian of architecture and Lasdun expert will lead an exclusive tour of the building exploring one of the finest examples of 20th century ar­chitecture in London. The tour of the Grade I listed College building will be followed by a reception in Censors Room where we will hear from Adrian Steel, Director of Collections and Programmes at the RIBA about the Building Modern Britain project designed to reveal our most important but uncatalogued archival and photographic collections relating to some of the UK’s most loved and controversial 20th century buildings.

RSVP by Wednesday 5 September to Arina Zharikova 020 7307 3701 or patrons@riba.org.

Royal College of Physicians, the entrance lobby looking towards the staircase, 1964 © Lasdun Archive / RIBA Collections
Royal College of Physicians, the entrance lobby looking towards the staircase, 1964 © Lasdun Archive / RIBA Collections

RIBA National Awards Party on 12 July 2018

RIBA with Arper UK and Cosentino are delighted to invite all American Friends to a celebratory event for all 2018 RIBA National Award winners on Thursday 12 July at the Serpentine Galleries Pavilion, designed by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo who became the youngest architect to work on the Serpentine Pavilion.

The RIBA National Awards are given to buildings across the UK recognised as significant contributions to architecture and this year we have awarded 49 fantastic projects.

If you are able to attend, please do RSVP to Mica.Jones@RIBA.org.


RIBA National Award Winners Party – 12 July 2018 Image: The 2018 Serpentine Pavilion by Frida Escobedo, photographed by Iwan Baan.

Visit to Sir Terry Farrell’s home, Lisson Grove on Thursday 21 June 2018

American Friends are welcome to join us for an exclusive visit to Sir Terry Farrell’s home on the afternoon of Thursday 21 June 2018.

Sir Terry Farrell invites us into his unique loft apartment within an Art Deco 1920’s former aircraft parts factory. The living space is organised around an atrium with a garden. The ceilings are high an a collection of replica fighter planes from both the First and Second World Wars is housed within the space.

For more information or to RSVP please contact Arina Zharikova on +44 (0) 20 7307 3701 or Patrons@riba.org.

Penthouse atrium © Terry Farrell


London History Day 2018

On Thursday 31 May 2018, more than 70 of London’s museums, galleries and cultural spaces opened their doors to reveal special behind the scenes tours, rarely seen exhibits and one off events, celebrating the capital’s unique identity.

London History Day: The London that might have been

To celebrate London History Day, we’ve delved into the RIBA Collections to explore alternative proposals for London buildings through history.

You can discover more about these schemes and plenty more through the RIBApix image library, our online resource of more than 95,000 drawings and photographs from the RIBA Collections.

Join the conversation with #LondonHistoryDay and #RIBACollections.

1983 model for the National Gallery Extension by Ahrends Burton & Koralek

Perhaps one of the most memorable architectural debates in recent history centered around the design for the National Gallery’s extension, opened as the Sainsbury Wing in 1991 and completed to designs by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. A 1982 design competition prompted proposals from high-profile architects including Richard Rogers and R. Seifert & Partners – but the winning entry was this High-Tech scheme by Ahrends Burton Koralek. This design became a battle-ground for debate between architectural neo-modernists and traditionalists, among them Prince Charles, who slammed the proposal in a speech at the RIBA. Ahrends Burton Koralek’s scheme was denied planning permission in 1984, and replaced with the Venturi Scott Brown & Associates design that now defines the north-west corner of Trafalgar Square.

Top: 1983 model for the National Gallery Extension by Ahrends Burton & Koralek, courtesy RIBA Collections, and below: The Sainsbury Wingphotographed in 1998, as built to the designs of Venturi Scott Brown & Associates, courtesy Janet Hall / RIBA Collections

1981 competition sketch for additional office and library space for the RIBA

This tongue-in-cheek competition sketch for an extension to our own headquarters building at 66 Portland Place proposes a ‘temple’ structure intended to house the RIBA President as well as a members’ swimming pool, bandstand for events and a radio mast to give the President direct access to the worldwide media.

Top: 1981 competition sketch for the RIBA by an unknown architect, courtesy RIBA Collections, and below: The RIBA headquarters at 66 Portland Place, designed by George Grey Wornum, as it looks today

1960 competition design for a shopping centre at the Elephant & Castle by ErnöGoldfinger

Despite this shopping centre design never being realised, Ernö Goldfinger nevertheless made his mark on Elephant & Castle with his design for the government office block Alexander Fleming House, now a residential tower known as Metro Central Heights. The selected shopping centre design by Boissevain & Osmond was the first covered shopping centre in Europe when it opened in 1965. Today the shopping centre is earmarked for demolition, the central point in a London neighbourhood undergoing huge change.

Top: 1960 Ernö Goldfinger unexecuted competition design for Elephant and Castle, courtesy RIBA Collections, and bellow: 1965 Bill Toomey photographof Boissevain & Osmond’s executed design, courtesy RIBA Collections

1956 early scheme for the Barbican Estate by Chamberlin Powell & Bon

Chamberlin Powell & Bon’s design for the Barbican Estate went through several iterations. The original 1954 brief was smaller in scale than the complex eventually built, and comprised housing for 5,000 residents. Chamberlin Powell & Bon responded by proposing a ring of tall office blocks with clusters of dwellings arranged around a series of courtyards. This drawing shows the Barbican concept developing while revealing very different elevations to those executed.

Top: 1956 Chamberlin Powell & Bon early drawing for the Barbican Estate, courtesy RIBA Collections, and Below: The Barbican Estate as built, photographed in 2017, courtesy Danilo Leonardi / RIBA Collections

1950 unexecuted design for the Festival of Britain exhibition complex, South Bank, by Sir Misha Black

Although this design for a large riverside structure in the form of a giant glazed spiral ramp was never realised, Sir Misha Black was a key figure in the 1951 Festival of Britain complex, designing the Regatta Restaurant that neighboured the main ‘Dome of Discovery’ building by Ralph Tubbs. The architectural legacy of the Festival of Britain survives in the form of the London County Council Architects’ Department’s Royal Festival Hall.

Top: 1950 Sir Misha Black unexecuted design for the Festival of Britain, courtesy RIBA Collections, and Below: 2008 photograph of the Royal Festival Hall, courtesy Christopher Hope-Fitch / RIBA Collections

1942 Sir Giles Gilbert Scott studies for Bankside Power Station

This early study for Bankside Power Station (now Tate Modern) is subtly – but importantly – different from the final building. The drawing shows two chimneys, one of which was later scrapped in order to preserve views of St Paul’s Cathedral. The remaining chimney was also reduced in height. Original plans for Bankside Power station had envisaged a coal power station, but this was later switched to oil, which could be stored in underground tanks and therefore removed the need for larger storage above ground.

Top: 1942 Sir Giles Gilbert Scott studies for Bankside Power Station, courtesy RIBA Collections, and Below: 1995 photograph of Bankside Power Station (now Tate Modern), courtesy Janet Hall/ RIBA Collections

1925 photograph of a plaster model of a proposed tower to be built over Selfridges department store, by Sir John Burnet & Partners

After Selfridges department store opened in 1909, building works continued to be carried out, with the main entrance not complete until 1928. Apparently not content with a building that defied previous limitations of construction (it was one of London’s earliest examples of steel cage frame construction, supporting a frontage made more of glass than stone or iron works), Harry Gordon Selfridge had ambitions – never realised – to construct an immense tower above the main building, and to excavate an underground tunnel linking the store directly with Bond Street Underground Station (to be renamed Selfridges). This model shows one of the tower proposals, still dwarfed in scale by Philip Tilden’s scheme.

Top: 1925 model for a proposed tower over Selfridges by Sir John Burnet & Partners, courtesy RIBA Collections, and Below: Selfridges photographedshortly after completion (without tower) in 1929, courtesy RIBA Collections

1867 Edward Middleton Barry design for the proposed National Gallery

Remember the furore over plans for the National Gallery extension in the 1980s? It wasn’t the first time designs for the National Gallery had been scuppered. This proposal by Edward Middleton Barry won an 1866 design competition for a complete rebuilding of the National Gallery, but its domed structure was denounced by critics as “a strong plagiarism on St Paul’s Cathedral”. Barry’s contribution was scaled back to an extension to the existing building, which had been designed by William Wilkins. Perhaps adding insult to injury, Barry had been similarly passed over only a year earlier in a competition for the Royal Courts of Justice, the commission for which was awarded to George Edmund Street despite the judges having recommended Barry’s design.

Top: 1867 Edward Middleton Barry proposal for the National Gallery, courtesy RIBA Collections, and Below: 2007 photograph of William Wilkins’ National Gallery, courtesy Christopher Hope-Fitch / RIBA Collections

1840 Charles Barry designs for the clock tower, Houses of Parliament

London History Day is celebrated on the anniversary of when ‘Big Ben’ first started keeping time (31 May 1859) – so it would be remiss of us not to include an alternative proposal for London’s best-known clock tower. Charles Barry’s designs for the reconstruction of the Houses of Parliament did not originally include a clock tower – he was only asked to include it later. This preliminary study, while ‘ Gothic Revival’ in style, has the addition of a surmounting turret in a ‘Moorish’ style. The final tower design was eventually built in 1859, being renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 but more commonly referred to as Big Ben after the largest of its five bells.

Left: 1840 Charles Barry designs for the clock tower, Houses of Parliament, courtesy RIBA Collections, and right: ‘Big Ben’ photographed in 1994, courtesy Joe Low/ RIBA Collections

1830 Lewis Nockalls Cottingham competition design for the New Houses of Parliament

Following the Great Fire of 1834 a competition was set up to design the new Houses of Parliament, and in just four months, 1,400 drawings by 97 entrants had been submitted. The designs ranged from a vast neoclassical ‘Senate House’ in St James’ Park by Joseph Gandy, to this Gothic Revival design by Lewis Nockalls Cottingham. The Gothic style was actually specified by the judges, as the classical architectural style was associated with the French Revolution and Republicanism. Ironically, the winning neo-Gothic design by Charles Barry was heavily criticised by his colleague Augustus Pugin as ‘All Grecian, sir; Tudor details on a classic body.’

Top: 1830 Lewis Nockalls Cottingham design for the Houses of Parliament, courtesy RIBA Collections, and Below: 1860 print of Charles Barry’s winning design, courtesy RIBA Collections

Discover more unrealised schemes in our special collection of images onRIBApix, RIBA’s image library.

Private tour of Crossrail Farringdon Station on Tuesday 5 June 2018

American Friends are welcome to join us for an exclusive visit to Crossrail’s Farrigdon Station on the afternoon of Tuesday 5 June 2018.

We will start our afternoon in the British Architectural Library at RIBA to view some of our collections thematically relating to the development of transport infrastructure in the UK with several of our curators.

We will then head on our exclusive visit to Farringdon Crossrail Station, expected to be one of the busiest in the UK when it opens to serve the Elizabeth line in December 2018, for a behind the scenes hard-hat tour to learn about the architectural and engineering challenges that the Crossrail team has faced.

For more information or to RSVP please contact Arina Zharikova on +44 (0) 20 7307 3701 or Patrons@riba.org.

Rendering of Crossrail Farringdon Station © Crossrail