The prestigious Architectural Association (AA) has sent letters to 16 staff warning that a consultation period had begun and that they were at risk of being fired to cut costs. The London-based school notified two employees in the membership department, two in exhibitions, two in HR, four in development and six members of the publications department. While the AA has not come to a final decision, critics of the move fear that this will spell the end of the much-lauded AA Files, the school’s journal of record.
Founded in 1981 by Alvin Boyarsky, director of the AA at the time, the AA Files have grown to become what some consider one of the best architectural magazines in print today. Featuring essays, criticism, and writing that conveys original ideas with a sense of wit, the journal frequently featured articles unlikely to be found in any other publication. Speaking to the The Architect’s Journal, Architecture Foundation Director Ellis Woodman lamented the AA Files’ possible demise.
“Under Tom Weaver’s editorship, they’ve been enjoying a golden period producing the best longform writing about architecture in the world,” he said. Woodman also called the dissolution of AA exhibitions a “tragic diminution of architectural discourse in London.”
Interim director Samantha Hardingham announced the cuts as the AA continues to search for a new director after the departure of 11 year veteran Brett Steele in 2016.
An AA spokesperson issued a statement to the Journal, saying that the non-academic restructuring was done in such a way as to minimize the impact to the school’s operations or academic programming.
“The AA is founded on the idea that it must know when to change. This restructuring is being undertaken in the best interests of the AA, and is necessary to support its sustainable future,” the spokesperson added.