HISTORY

The first attempt to form an Institute of Architects was made in 1948 with Archt. Herbert Gonsal as the prime mover. Due to disagreement on some issues, the matter was not pursued at that time. Further attempts were made in 1951 and 1954 by Archt. Wynne-Jones with Herbert Gonsal as the chief proponent.  A number  of  meetings  were  held  to  work  out  a constitution and in 1956 the Ceylon Institute of     Architects (CIA) was established by a small group of overseas qualified Architects, who also had membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The Inaugural meeting was held on 11th September 1957 at the Tea Propaganda Board, Price Building, Prince Street, Fort, Colombo. Twelve Architects participated at the Inaugural meeting of the CIA. Among them,  Oliver Weerasinghe, T. N. Wynne-Jones ,  Herbert E. Gonsal  and G. B. Altham  were elected as the first Fellow Members of the CIA. The others who participated at the Inaugural meeting were elected the  first Associate Members of the CIA, namely,  H. J. Billimoria , Ronald de Kretser ,  S. A. David ,  Justin Samarasekera ,  Visva Selveratnam , 0.S. Candaval , P. N. Wijesinghe , and Wilson Peiris . The signatures of those who attended this inaugural meeting can still be seen in the Attendance Register. W. B. Claesen, Neville Gunaratne, J. C. Nilgiria, A. Panditharatne, S. H. Peiris did not attend the inaugural meeting even though they had obtained membership of the Institute. As Archt.Oliver Weerasinghe was due to take up an assignment in the United Nations in a few months, Wynne-Jones requested him to take the Chair and become the first President of the CIA.
 
The dedicated founder members, all of whom were senior members of the Architectural profession in Ceylon, were later elected as fellows of the Ceylon Institute of Architects. They were Messrs Oliver Weerasinghe, T. N. Wynne-Jones, G. B. Altham, H.J. Billimoria, W. B. Claesen, Herbert E. Gonsal, Neville Gunaratne, J. C. Nilgiria, A. Panditharatne, P. H. Wilson Peiris, S. H. Peiris and Justin Samarasekera. Having adopted a constitution, which followed that of the British Institute, the intention of the CIA was to obtain the status of an allied society of the RIBA. They achieved this in 1960, by which time the membership of The Ceylon Institute of Architects had risen to 30. The CIA received the encouragement of the then President of the RIBA, Sir Basil Spence and the considerable assistance of C. D. Spragg the then Secretary of the RIBA. In recognition of this assistance Mr. Spragg was later elected by the CIA as its first Honorary Fellow. Due to the hard work of these founder members of the Institute, a School of Architecture attached to the Institute of Practical Technology, Katubedda was establish in 1961.
 
In 1976, through a private member’s motion by the then Minister of Housing and Construction, the Hon. Pieter Keuneman, the Ceylon Institute of Architects was incorporated as the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) by an Act of Parliament, called Sri Lanka Institute of Architects Law No.1 of 1976.
 
Incorporation and New Responsibilities
 
After Incorporation, the Institute was called upon to perform important public duties and to take responsibility for the education and examination of architects for the purpose of providing a professional qualification. In order to improve the services offered to the members and public, the Institute established a permanent office at the premises of the SLAAS Building in April 1978. Since then, the Institute has adopted Standing Orders, and a Code of Conduct, and has established a Board of Architectural Education to serve its members, the General Public and the construction industry of Sri Lanka.
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A long overdue amendment to the SLIA Law was presented to Parliament in 1996 by the then Minister of Urban Development, Housing and Public Utilities, Hon. Nimal Siripala De Silva. The SLIA is grateful to the late Hon. Pieter Keuneman and Hon. Nimal Siripala De Silva for the kind assistance extended to further the architectural profession in Sri Lanka.
 
The Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (Amendment) Law No. 14 of 1996 vested power in the Institute to form an “Architects Registration Board”. With the formation of this Board in February 1997 all those who practice the profession of architecture in Sri Lanka are required to register under three categories namely “Chartered Architects”, “Architects”, and “Architectural Licentiates’.
 
The CIA office and SLIA office carried on its operations from the private office or residence of the Hony. Secretary until April 1978 when the SLIA office was shifted to the small  room in the Sri Lanka Association for Advancement of Science (SLAAS) building at 120/10, Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 07. This was due to the fact that, twenty perches of land adjoining SLAAS given on lease by the Government to the SLIA, was handed over to SLAAS to build their Head office on a total of 40 perches in 1976 as the SLIA did not have funds to build premises of their own at that time.
 
In 1982, SLIA council decided to have their own building. A Competition   was conducted for the building on a site at Kotte in the year 1984 and Prof. Lakshman Alwis won the competition. However, after carrying out the soil testing, this site was abandoned and Prof. Lakshman Alwis was requested to do another design for the new site at 120/7, Vidya Mawatha, Colombo 07, where the present SLIA head office is located.
 
Prof. Alwis provided Professional services to the head office building free of charge through his office-M/s Design Consortium Limited. The construction of the building was Started by Archt. Mihindu Keerthiratne,President SLIA during the 1991/92 Session. However, construction work of the building went at a slow pace from 1993-1996. In March 1997, then President of SLIA, Archt. V. N. C. Gunasekara shifted the SLIA office to this new semi-finished building and completed all works by 1998. The SLIA Head Office now provides the following facilities to its Members:
 
a)    At Basement   Lecture Rooms - City School of Architecture  
b)    At Ground Floor   Library, Offices of BAE, PAB, BOM, ARB, BAP and a Committee Room and a Members' Lounge  
c)     At First Floor      Reception, SLIA Secretariat, Council Chamber and Committee Rooms.   
d)   At Second Floor   City School of Architecture  
e)    At Third Floor   Auditorium  
 
A significant development in the history of the Institute was the expansion of the Annual Sessions to include a trade and Members' work exhibition, the first of such events was organized by Archt. Gemunu Fernando in 1983 when Archt. Plnr. Surath Wickramasinghe was the President. It has grown over the years to be a much looked-forward item at a national scale.