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Eva Franch set for AA directorship

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Spanish architect Eva Franch i Gilabert is in line to be the next director of the Architectural Association and first woman to have been elected to the post

The New York-based architect reportedly took 67 per cent of the vote in a ballot of the 1,077 current students, academic and administrative staff as well as members of council.

Franch – who has for eight years been the chief curator and executive director of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York – was up against UK academic Robert Mull (who received 15.4 per cent) and Italian Pippo Ciorra (17.6 per cent) for the job.

Her appointment remains subject to formal approval by the association’s council, as well as contract negotiations.

No start date has been set but the AA’s 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.

An AA spokeswoman said today: ’Eva would be a high calibre appointment, and there is a mood of optimism at the AA. We are putting our financial woes behind us and looking forward to an exciting time for the school.’

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.

The association last month revealed it received 73 responses to a call for applications for the director 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 addressed the AA school community with a presentation and question and answer session in the week commencing 19 February.

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