The Northern Architectural Association was founded in 1858 by twenty seven Architects practising in Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, Darlington, North Shields, South Shields and Alnwick. They embraced the opportunity to promote the general advancement of the art and science of architecture; and proposed numbers of innovations that endure in architectural practice today. The first president was John Dobson, an architect of much more than merely local fame, whose works in the North of England are numerous and distinguished. People enjoy to the present-day, his wonderful buildings in Newcastle and Northumberland.

As far back as 1887, the Association supported the registration of Architects, which led to the current situation in which the title is protected by law. The NAA also advocated the introduction of architectural courses, culminating in the formulation of a School of Architecture at what is now Newcastle University. Another president, William Glover, funded the presidential medal and many other gifts; including substantial donations of money to the library and a student award, which is known as the Glover Prize. Over the years, architectural education has developed and the annual prize is now available to Northumbria University School of Architecture as well as Newcastle University.

In addition to its substantial role in architectural education, the Association continues to support ventures aimed at greater public understanding of architecture and the built environment. From new structures to community design projects, the NAA is at the forefront of regional activity. Always an advocate of high quality architecture, whether it be historical or modern, the Association can help campaigns to save any distinguished building and promote design proposals that will enhance the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the entire region.

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