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AA shortlists three for director role

Aa collage

Three international contenders have been shortlisted for the post of director at the troubled Architectural Association

A vote later this month will decide between Italian Pippo Ciorra (pictured right), New York-based Spanish national Eva Franch i Gilabert (centre) and UK academic Robert Mull (left).

The AA’s current interim director, Samantha Hardingham, will step down in the summer on completion of her one-year stint, which has been dogged by cash problems and controversy.

Mull – currently director of innovation at London urban design firm Publica – made headlines in 2015 when he resigned from London Metropolitan University’s Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, where he was dean and head of architecture. He has taught in Austria and Russia and is currently professor of architecture and design at the University of Brighton.

Ciorra is the senior curator of MAXXI Architettura in Rome, and teaches design and theory at the University of Camerino.

Since 2010, Franch has been the chief curator and executive director of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York.

The association revealed it received 73 responses to a call for applications for the role and drew up an initial longlist of 26 candidates.

From this, 15 people were selected for a first round of interviews, including candidates from Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Eight candidates made the second round; four men and four women.

The three remaining shortlisted candidates will address the AA school community with a presentation and question and answer session in the week commencing 19 February.

This will be followed by an election where all current students, academic and administrative staff as well as members of council will vote on their preferred candidate.

The AA hopes to have one of them in place before Hardingham leaves in July to facilitate the transition period.

Hardingham last year revealed the school was seeking taught degree-awarding powers to strengthen the value of its qualifications.

This process involves convincing the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education of the school’s sound governance and financial viability.

Hardingham suggested the AA was overly reliant on student fees and said it had been hit by a ‘massive’ increase in rates and rents, inflated by the nearby Crossrail project at Tottenham Court Road, plus the cost of the ongoing revamp of its Bedford Square headquarters, designed by Wright & Wright.

The AJ reported earlier this year that 10 out of 16 staff put on notice of redundancy at the AA had left the organisation.

Nine were made redundant while one – understood to be AA Files editor Tom Weaver – resigned.

Two of the 16 who were on notice were redeployed, with the remaining four retained in their existing roles.


Readers' comments (2)

  • P Taylor

    Has to be Robert Mull, regardless of the capabilities of the other candidates. If ever the AA needed reinventing to find a new relevance, it’s now, and Robert is best placed to do this.

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  • Perhaps he should do something with his hair - or perhaps not.

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