A mass meeting of Architectural Association students, staff and members abandoned a vote of no confidence in the AA’s governing council following a two and a half hour special general meeting (SGM) on Thursday evening.
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Unit master Mike Weinstock, who had proposed the no confidence motion following a call for the SGM by four ex-presidents, asked the meeting to support him in withdrawing the motion.
He said he was ‘ashamed’ that he had not been able to muster the support he had hoped for within and outside the school, and that he would not comment any further on issues of governance that prompted the sgm.
His motion to, in effect, abandon the campaign against council was passed by a substantial majority on a show of hands among the 300 or so present, even though there had been much criticism voiced during the meeting of the way director Brett Steele’s contract had been amended by council following his re-election to the post in 2009.
Despite concerns expressed by former AA president Marina Adams, and a passionate speech by honorary secretary Christopher Libby criticising recent changes at the AA, there were many comments which supported either council, or Steele, or both.
Nevertheless there was an acknowledgement by the director that he had not communicated effectively enough with the school, and that this would be addressed.
Current president Alex Lifschutz, who chaired the meeting, said Council had listened to the criticisms made both at the meeting and before it, and would now initiate a consultation across the school and the membership in respect of the role of the director and the future shape and direction of the school.
With a council election due to take place this summer, debate is certain to continue. But it looks more likely to focus on the future rather than the director’s contract, which on the evidence presented to the meeting is more or less the same as the one he had in his first term, and is little different to that of his predecessor Mohsen Mostafavi.
Paul Finch was a member of the AA Council from 2005–2009