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AA names final shortlist for chair

The Architectural Association (AA) has announced the final shortlist for its new chair, in the week that fears have been voiced over the 'unsafe' selection process.

Despite allegations that the remaining candidates have been 'cherry picked behind closed doors', there is still one surprise on the shortlist.

Brett Steele, the director of the school's design research lab, has found his way into the final round, at the expense of some of architecture's bigger names.

However, the other short-listed applicants are more predictable. Jeremy Till, the head of Sheffield School of Architecture, has made the final cut, as have Farshid Moussavi from Foreign Office Architects and Kari Jormakka, a teacher at Vienna University of Technology, who made a joint application.

Even so, the head of the AA's search committee, Roger Zogolovitch, is pleased with those still up for selection. He said: 'The shortlisted candidates are all young, energetic individuals with a strong desire, intelligence and capacity to guide the school in the writing of its next chapter.'

Commenting on the shortlist, the former head of the Bartlett, Peter Cook - at one point thought to be a prime candidate - said: 'My knee-jerk reaction is that I would have thought Jeremy Till would do the best job. As a professional educationalist he'd do the better job of running the school.'

He also echoed claims made by an anonymous student that the pre-selection process was non-transparent and the committee had 'circumvented the opinion of the student body by pre-selecting the usual suspects.'

'It would have been good if the recruitment process was more public and, for example, people had seen the longlist,' Cook commented.

But Simon Allford, the AA's honorary treasurer, who has been liaising for the council with the search committee, said: 'We have been as painfully democratic as you could be.'

by Richard Waite

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