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Panel chair weighs in over AA validation row

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The man at the heart of the furore over the Architectural Association’s (AA’s) Part 2 validation has challenged claims that the decision to bestow ‘continued’ status on the school was made by ‘majority’ (AJ online 13.03.08).

Robert Hutson chaired the eight-strong validation panel which recommended that the AA receive ‘conditional’ endorsement, asking that AA students be made more aware of Part 2 criteria.

But writing in the AJ, RIBA head of education David Gloster claims that following the RIBA’s validation procedure, the ‘original board members… decided by a majority to amend their own findings’ to give the school ‘conditional’ status.

But, speaking exclusively to the AJ, Hutson, who heads up Essex-based Robert Hutson Architects, said: ‘David Gloster is wrong to say there was a majority in favour of changing the report.

‘We were only given a week to deliberate, during which two of the panel were not available. Of the remaining six, two were for it, two against and one ambivalent. I took the role of chair and recommended that we grant the school “continued” status.

‘When I learned that the two who didn’t vote were against, I thought, hang on – the consensus is clearly against,’ added Hutson.

Referring to the protracted delay in publishing the panel’s final report, Hutson added: ‘The real crime is that the board was given just one week to deliberate when Gloster has had a year.’

In another twist, AJ columnist Patrick Lynch has turned down an interview to join the validation pool. After reading the AJ’s story, Lynch wrote to the RIBA’s Jannine Newman: ‘I am afraid that I cannot see any point in even contemplating becoming a member of the RIBA validation panel at present… It is a disgrace that a visiting board be treated in this manner.’

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