Architectural Association School of Architecture
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Rural (Hooke Park)
The Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, commonly referred to as the AA, is the oldest independent school of architecture in the UK and one of the most prestigious and competitive in the world. Its wide-ranging programme of exhibitions, lectures, symposia and publications have given it a central position in global discussions and developments within contemporary architectural culture.
The foundation of the Architectural Association was as an alternative to the practice where young men were articled to established architects. This practice offered no guarantee for educational quality or professional standards. The AA believed it was open to vested interests, abuse, dishonesty and incompetence.
This situation led two articled pupils, Robert Kerr (1823–1904) and Charles Gray (1827/28–1881), to propose a systematic course of training provided by the students themselves. Following a merger with the already existing Association of Architectural Draughtsmen, the first formal meeting under the name of the Architectural Association took place in May 1847 at Lyons Inn Hall, London. Kerr became the first president, 1847–48. From 1859 the AA shared premises at 9 Conduit Street with the Royal Institute of British Architects, later (1891) renting rooms in Great Marlborough Street.
The AA School was formally established in 1890. In 1901, it moved premises to the former Royal Architectural Museum in Tufton Street, Westminster. In 1917, it moved again, to its current premises in Bedford Square, central London (it has since acquired additional London premises in John Street and a 350-acre (1.4 km2) site at Hooke Park in Dorset). The school has also acquired property on Morwell Street behind Bedford Square.
AA is one of the world's most international and prestigious schools of architecture, attracting and selecting students and staff from more than 60 countries worldwide, with a long list of visiting critics, lecturers and other participants from around the world each year. The students of the AA have been addressed by many eminent figures, from John Ruskin and George Gilbert Scott in the 19th century, to more recently Richard Rogers, an alumnus of the school.
In November 2017, the AA was reported to be planning to make 16 staff redundant, including the whole of its publications and exhibitions departments. Shortly before, the AA had announced it was seeking a new director, to be appointed by March 2018, following the departure of Brett Steele announced in December 2016.
The first female director of the AA was Eva Franch i Gilabert, appointed in 2018 (succeeding interim director Samantha Hardingham). Following votes of no confidence in her leadership, Franch was fired in July 2020 for "failure to develop and implement a strategy and maintain the confidence of the AA School Community which were specific failures of performance against clear objectives outlined in the original contract of employment." Her dismissal came despite support from academics who wrote an open letter talking of "systemic biases" against women and of sexism, and accusing the AA of using "the pandemic for anti-democratic purposes". Architectural magazine Dezeen reported tutor and alumni views that the failure to investigate allegations of bullying and sexism had damaged both the AA school and the architecture profession, leaving "a cloud over the school".
Women at the AA
Women were first admitted as students to the AA School during the First World War in 1917. That year, Ruth Lowy, Winifred Ryle, Irene Graves and Gillian Cooke were some of the first women to enter the AA, hitherto a predominantly male school.
Courses are divided into two main areas – Undergraduate programmes, leading to the AA Diploma (RIBA/ARB Part 2), and Postgraduate programmes, which include specialised courses in Landscape Urbanism (LU), Housing and Urbanism, Sustainable Environmental Design, Histories and Theories, Emergent Technologies, Design Research Lab (DRL), as well as day-release course in building conservation, garden conservation, and environmental access. Recently launched programmes include Projective Cities, Design + Make, and Interprofessional studio. Since its foundation, the school has continued to draw its teaching staff from progressive international practices, and they are reappointed annually, allowing a continual renewal of the exploration of architectural graphics and polemical formalism.
The school sits outside the state-funded university system and UCAS application system. As an independent school, the AA does not participate in university rankings. The tuition fees at the AA are competitively priced in comparison to other institutions.
The AA enrolls a higher proportion of students from overseas compared to other architecture schools in the UK.
Bookshop and publications
The AA Bookshop has a wide collection of architectural literature  and is used as a platform for AA's own publications. AA Publications has a long tradition of publishing architects, artists and theorists early in their careers, as well as occasionally publishing figures who have already gained notoriety in other fields of expertise, such as Salman Rushdie. AA Publications produces the journal, AA Files, and the AA Book, known as the Projects Review, which annually documents the work undertaken by members of the school from Foundation to Graduate programmes. AA publications are designed and edited by the AA Print Studio, originally established in 1971 as part of the Communications Unit directed by Dennis Crompton of Archigram. The school had its own independent radio station.
- Howard Robertson (1929–35)
- Alvin Boyarsky (1971–90)
- Alan Balfour (1991–95)
- Roger Zogolovitch (President, 1991–93)
- Mohsen Mostafavi (1995–2004)
- Brett Steele (2005–2017)
- Samantha Hardingham (interim, 2017–18)
- Eva Franch i Gilabert (2018–2020)
Notable current and former teachers
- "Architectural Association School of Architecture – Review for Educational Oversight by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education" (PDF). Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. May 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 November 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
- "TOP ARCHITECTURE SCHOOLS IN THE WORLD". Jebiga Design & Lifestyle. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- "Best architecture schools in the world". Spear's Magazine. 1 February 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- "Top 10 Best Architecture Schools in the World 2015". Design Schools Hub. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- "Top Schools of Architecture in the World". Arch2O.com. 8 March 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- "Bio of Brett Steele (AA Director)". brettsteele.net. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Driftwood Pavilion by AA Unit 2". Dezeen Design Magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
- "Mohsen Mostafavi (Former AA Director) is named dean of (Harvard) Design School". Harvard Gazette. Archived from the original on 13 July 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Edward Bottoms, Introductory lecture to AA Archives, February 2010
- Records of the Architectural Association
- Past Presidents of the Architectural Association Archived 15 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "AA Life: Welcome". Architectural Association. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Hurst, Will (15 November 2017). "Exclusive: AA begins consultation with staff over redundancies". Architects' Journal. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
- "London's Architectural Association Seeks New Director". Arch Daily. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
- "Director of London's Architectural Association, Brett Steele, to Become UCLA Dean". Arch Daily. 15 December 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
- Howarth, Dan (15 December 2016). "AA director Brett Steele to become dean of UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture". Dezeen. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- Goldberg, Mackenzie (5 March 2018). "Eva Franch i Gilabert has been announced as the new Director of the Architectural Association". Archinect. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
- Hopkirk, Elizabeth (2 July 2020). "AA director loses two votes of no confidence". Building Design. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
- Block, India (3 July 2020). "AA director Eva Franch i Gilabert suffers vote of no confidence". Dezeen. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
- Pacheco, Antonio (13 July 2020). "Architectural Association has fired Eva Franch i Gilabert". Archinect. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
- Ravenscroft, Tom (15 July 2020). "Abrupt dismissal of AA director Eva Franch i Gilabert leaves "a cloud over the school"". Dezeen. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- Minutes of an Ordinary General Meeting of the Architectural Association, 17 July 1917; and interleafed circular from AA President, H.M. Fletcher, alteration to By-law No.17 in AA Archive Box C103.
- Rubinstein, William D (2011). The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 349. ISBN 9780230304666.
- Brooks, Emily (12 November 2017). "Glass ceilings: 100 years after women were admitted to the Architectural Association school, has anything changed?". Daily Telegraph.
- "AALU (Landscape Urbanism)". Architectural Association. Archived from the original on 23 May 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "AADRL (Design Research Laboratory)". Architectural Association. Archived from the original on 8 June 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Dyckhoff, Tom (15 October 2009). "Who would want to be an architecture student?". The Times. London. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "AA London". Bauhaus Labs. Archived from the original on 22 December 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "AA Bookshop". Architectural Association. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "AA Publications". Architectural Association. Archived from the original on 27 April 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Daly, Wayne. "Reading Room". Forms of Inquiry. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- "AAIR.FM Architectural Association Independent Radio". Architectural Association. Archived from the original on 31 May 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Richards, J. M. "Gillian Margaret [Jill] Howell (1927–2000), architect". ONDB. OUP. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- Hevesi, Dennis (24 June 2012). "Gerhard Kallmann, Architect, Is Dead at 97". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Wainwright, Oliver (21 June 2015). "James Gowan obituary". The Guardian.
- "Architectural Association Archives: History". Architectural Association. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Weaver, Thomas (2008). Architectural Association Files: Annals of the Architectural Association School of Architecture. London, United Kingdom: AA Publications. p. 84. ISBN 1-902902-69-6.
- AA Projects Review 05/06. London, United Kingdom: AA Publications. 2006. p. 198. ISBN 1-902902-50-5.
- "Report of the RIBA Visiting Board to the Architectural Association" (PDF). Visiting Board Report 2007. Royal Institute of British Architects. 4 June 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Architectural Association School of Architecture". RIBApedia (Royal Institute of British Architects). Retrieved 31 May 2010.[permanent dead link]
- "London – Architectural Association School of Architecture (Contact Information & Prescribed Qualifications)". Architects Registration Board. Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- John Summerson, The Architectural Association 1847–1947 (London: Pleiades Books, 1947).