The National Council of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has agreed to amend the focus of the Institute’s resources to provide more equitable benefits to members as well as the profession and the community.

Following a review of the Institute’s business model in consultation with stakeholder representatives, the AIA National Council has decided to focus the Institute’s resources on three core areas: membership services, advocacy and education. The new streamlined strategy includes changes such as the closure of Architext bookstores in Melbourne and Sydney, and the closure of the Newcastle office.

In a message to members, councillors and staff, National President Jon Clements said the decisions, though difficult, were necessary and part of a broader change process that will ensure the best and most equitable use of the Institute’s resources. He added that the provision of timely and relevant members’ services will remain paramount to the Institute’s focus in 2016.

He explained that many brick-and-mortar retailers have been hit by online retail, but bookselling has been hit harder still with e-books and the internet radically changing the publishing industry. Given that Architext has also been impacted by these market pressures and is no longer sustainable as a business, the Sydney and Melbourne stores will be closed on 31 March 2016.

However, the Institute is committed to ensuring that all of its members have equitable access to quality specialist books and publications with the organisation currently exploring partnerships with select bookshops nationally.

Additionally, the Newcastle and NSW Country Divisions operations, currently based in Newcastle, will relocate to the NSW Chapter offices. According to Mr Clements, the Divisions, their committees and members are passionate and engaged, and their initiatives and events perform well. However, AIA is unable to support the significant costs associated with running a standalone office in the current climate.

Acknowledging the enormous support and commitment from the Division Committees in regional NSW, particularly the work of both Chairs, Sarah Aldridge and Debra McKendry-Hunt, Mr Clements added that the National Council will be equally committed to ensuring the planned 2016 regional programs continue with direct support from the NSW Chapter and the wider Institute.