London’s venerable Architectural Association (AA), founded in 1847, has long stood as a resolutely independent-minded educational institution. But in the last few months, it seems to be going through a spasm of self-doubt about its future, current leadership and independence. The history of the institution suggests that these spasms happen every thirty or forty years, and it seems to be happening again. To make the situation worse, it is currently without a permanent director.
But over the last few months, the AA has conducted a search for a new director, and today the Association has released its short list of candidates.
The shortlist has several names well-known to American architects. Eva Franch i Gilabert, for the last eight years Chief Curator and Executive Director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City, has made this prestigious list. Franch is also a professor at The Cooper Union School of Architecture and has taught at Columbia University GSAPP, the IUAV University of Venice, SUNY Buffalo, and Rice University School of Architecture.
Also on the list is Robert Mull, a Professor and Head of the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Brighton in Brighton, England. He is a founding member of the architecture collective NATO and he was educated at London’s Bartlett School of Architecture and at the AA.
The third name on the shortlist is Pippo Ciorra, an Italian-born architect, critic, professor, prolific author and Senior Curator of the Architecture department at the Maxxi Museum in Rome since 2009.
The Director of the AA has the potential to be one of the most important educators in the world of architecture, in part because of the uniqueness of the AA and its history of important directors, including Alvin Boyarsky, Mohsen Mostafavi, Alan Balfour, Brett Steele, and current interim director Samantha Hardingham.
The schedule for the directors search, according to the website, proceeds with the candidates making presentations to the AA school community from February 20 to 23, followed by a vote by the AA community from February 26 to March 2, and the announcement of the winner in March 2018.