Nearly two years after its former director Eva Franch I Gilbert was dismissed amid a fog of controversy, the Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture has announced the selection of a new leader. Effective this August (just in time for the start of the new academic year), Dr. Ingrid Schroder, a British-American architect and academic who currently serves as head of Design Teaching and director of the MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design (MAUD) at the University of Cambridge Department of Architecture, will step into the role as head of the prestigious London academic institution. An AA press release announcing Schroder’s appointment was first disseminated earlier today, and the news was first widely reported by the Architects’ Journal.
The AA first commenced its search for Franch’s replacement in December 2021.
Said Schroder in a statement: “The AA is a nimble place of debate—it is a unique environment in which to wrestle with the implications of what lies ahead. Architecture and architectural education produce the extraordinary places, spaces and settings, that frame our everyday—both real and speculative. It is a unique and varied language and a complex discipline. It is a great privilege to be in a position to help tune the AA’s voice within this conversation and to facilitate the collective endeavours that can provoke a better understanding and considered architectural approaches to the near and distant future.”
Schroder was one of five candidates—including one joint candidacy and one U.S.-based educator—under consideration to fill the high-profile vacancy at the AA following the departure of Franch. The shortlist of hopefuls was revealed by the school back in March. Joining Schroder as finalist under consideration were: Andrew Clancy, Professor of Architecture at the Kingston School of Art and director at Clancy Moore Architects; Dr. Mark Morris, Head of Teaching and Learning and Chair of the Senior Management Team at the AA School of Architecture; John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, co-directors of Territorial Agency; Diplomacy Unit and Course Masters at the AA School of Architecture, and Jill Stoner, Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley.
As noted by the AA in its press release, the announcement of Schroder’s appointment follows a vote by “students, faculty and Council members in line with the school’s constitution.” The outcome of the vote, the AA noted, “was advisory to the Council, and the final decision was today announced to the students, staff and the public.”
“During the process of selection, she [Schroder] demonstrated a clear vision to preserve the independence and spirit of the school, to facilitate innovation and nurture new talent,” said AA Council President Victoria President Victoria Thornton. “I am delighted to welcome Ingrid to the Architectural Association, and on behalf of the AA Council thank the other candidates and the wider school community for contributing with integrity to the process.”
Similar to a handful of the other shortlisted candidates, Schroder has existing ties to the AA, namely in the past role of Studio Master at the school. During her 20-year academic career at Cambridge, she has held numerous titles including as Supervisor, Lecturer, Studio Master, Professional Practice coordinator, Academic Exchange coordinator and Research Group coordinator. In addition to Cambridge and the AA, she has also held roles as Studio Master at ETH Zurich, visiting lecturer at Central St Martins, and as visiting critic at several global institutions including the Royal College of Art, EPFL Lausanne, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and CEPT in Ahmedabad, India. As noted by the AA, through these posts Schroder has “developed broad international networks to inform pedagogy and development at Cambridge,” and her “ongoing research beyond new pedagogical models is concerned with shifting perceptions of nature and landscape in the face of climate change, and the architecture and urbanism of liberation from the American Revolutionary period through the late 20th Century.”
Published works include African Modernism (2014), which Schroder co-authored along with Manuel Herz, Hans Focketyn, and Julia Jamrozik.
Franch, who was formally fired from the AA on July 13, 2020, after internal polling showed a lack of confidence in both her leadership and her five-year Strategic Plan for the school, is currently Visiting Professor at the Princeton University School of Architecture. Her ousting prompted widespread outcry within and beyond the AA, with more than 150 architects and educators signing on to a letter of support a week after the poll was made public.
Following Franch, who began her post in 2018, Schroder is the second woman to lead the 175-year-old AA.