Posts tagged with "Architectural Association":

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Architectural Association selects Eva Franch i Gilabert to be next director

The members of the Architectural Association (AA) in London have selected Eva Franch i Gilabert, Chief Curator and Executive Director of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, to be their next director. Franch was selected with 67 percent of the vote from a shortlist that included Pippo Ciorra, Senior Curator of MAXXI Architettura in Rome, and Robert Mull, Head of Architecture and Design at the University of Brighton. The AA process now requires the proposed director to negotiate a contract and the final announcement will come in early March. Franch has been the Chief Curator and Executive Director of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York since 2010. In her presentation to the AA community last week, Franch i Gilabert declared, “I believe in schools and cultural institutions that are anti-institutional even when being one, that act as cultural forums and civic platforms, and that believe in the importance of constantly redefining how we want to live together. Beyond regulating predefined domains of expertise, the AA has been a space for speculation, friction, and resistance. With a highly calibrated relationship between rigor and madness, the AA has been a hotbed for architectural experimentation, and should continue to be.” Let’s hope she can bring the AA, which has significant financial and institutional challenges, back to being such a hotbed. The official AA statement:

Dear AA School Community,

We are writing as the AA Search Committee to announce the results of the AA Director election:

1,077 ballots were issued by MiVoice to the AA School Community. 876 votes were cast by the AA School Community, representing a turnout of 81.3% for the election, the highest number of cast votes and one of the highest percentile levels of participation in the last 30 years.

The candidates received:

Eva Franch I Gilabert - 587 votes cast / 67% of the vote

Pippo Ciorra - 154 votes cast / 17.6% of the vote

Robert Mull - 135 votes cast / 15.4% of the vote

We wish to congratulate Eva on her election and receiving the highest majority in a contested election since 1990. We also wish to sincerely thank Pippo and Robert for their candidacy and presentation of their ideas on the AA and the role of the director.

We have advised the AA Council of the election results and requested they proceed with the formal appointment of Eva Franch i Gilabert as the new Director of the AA School of Architecture.

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Here’s what the AA’s shortlisted director candidates envision for the school (and the field)

On February 14, London’s Architectural Association announced its short list of three finalists to be considered for its director position. This short list, the AA claims, came from an initial response of 73 submitted applications that was then winnowed down to a “longlist of 26 candidates, of which 15 were selected for a first round of interviews.”  In this first round, there were candidates from Australia, North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. In the second round, there were just eight candidates; four men and four women. The final shortlist of three includes: Pippo Ciorra, Senior Curator of MAXXI Architettura in Rome, Eva Franch i Gilabert, Chief Curator and Executive Director of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, and Robert Mull, Head of Architecture and Design at the University of Brighton. All three also list themselves as architects and educators, but Ciorra and Eva Franch i Gilabert are also curators working in exhibition venues, and Mull calls himself an” urbanist and activist.” Now the AA has released statements from the three candidates and their responses to a set of questions. Starting on February 19, the three will make formal presentations to the AA community, who will vote for the new director. We are taking this opportunity to highlight a few of the differences and, as it turns out, similarities between the candidates' positions, with a link to the full statements. What makes the AA process so compelling is its openness and transparency. In this, it is unlike any other architecture institution in the world when it chooses a leader. Robert Mull, the only Brit on the list, is positioning himself as the clear favorite for those who demand that architecture foreground itself firstly as ‘social’ practice. He wants architecture “to look outwards and to judge ourselves not by the internal logic of the international architectural community but by our impact on others and on society more generally.” Mull pointedly says, “I do not like needless hierarchy and I favor plain speaking and direct action over jargon and obscuration," and is the only candidate who also asks that the AA become more engaged with London as its extended campus. He also talks about engaging with the current refugee crisis as a site for interventions. The other two candidates, Ciorra and Franch i Gilabert, would of course deny they do not support social engagement, but they clearly emphasize the need to re-engage with the avant-garde legacy of the AA. They both, in nearly similar statements, believe that architecture arrived at its present “crises” as a result of “the acceleration of hyper-capitalism on one hand and the expansion of the so-called culture industry on the other" (Ciorra) and “over the last decade and as a result of new forms of communication, omnipresent market forces and increased global mobility, cultural and educational institutions around the globe have undergone a process of homogenization" (Franch i Gilabert). They both celebrate the AA’s history of experimentation, which they want to continue, and would also both ask outside professionals and academics to the AA to establish challenges for the institution. All three thankfully recognize the need to continue supporting the AA’s publishing ventures and exhibition programs as well as upgraded PhD and research programs. It seems clear from these three statements that they each recognize the AA’s current economic distress, what that means for its future student enrollment, and the need to establish a more stable economic model and platform. But none of the three really have definitive ideas of what this new model would look like. Perhaps they will not know this until they are seated in the directors chair and facing this challenge head-on.
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Architectural Association announces three candidates for its director shortlist

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.
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Remembering Neave Brown, a champion of smart public housing

Two months before he died, in poor health and noticeably frail, architect Neave Brown packed East London’s Hackney Empire to capacity: 1,300 predominantly young architects came to hear from the man who had just been awarded the RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal. They gave him a standing ovation. Brown, who died on January 9, age 88, was the antithesis of the starchitect. He had completed his last building in the UK nearly 40 years earlier and a decade later finally put down his (pre-digital) drafting pens to become a painter. The medal came as a result of a reappraisal of his contribution to the architecture of housing and citymaking against the contemporary backdrop of a housing crisis, an expanding city, and the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. Brown studied at London’s Architectural Association in the 1950s and was not alone in rejecting tower blocks as a model for the future, but few did more to develop an alternative model and do so with such a high level of architectural ambition and skill. His was a street-based architecture, low, ground-hugging, and dense, that owed as much to his admiration for the Georgian terraces of London as it did to a more apparent inspiration—Le Corbusier, for Brown had been both designer and cocurator of the retrospective of the Swiss architect’s work held at the Hayward gallery in 1987. In 1965, Brown completed a terrace of five houses at Winscombe Street in the London Borough of Camden. To meet the government’s demanding Parker Morris Committee space standards, Brown ingeniously created interior spaces that afforded both spaciousness and flexibility. Although thoroughly modern, the terrace fit the London street pattern, with clearly identifiable front doors a few steps up from the pavement and a shared garden behind. It encouraged sociability, a place where neighbors could and would drop by. It was here at Winscombe Street that Brown and his wife, Janet, brought up their children Victoria, Aaron, and Zoe, putting his ideas about the “intergenerational home” to the test. In the same year, Camden Borough Council appointed Sydney Cook as its chief architect committed to finding new models of low-rise high-density housing. Meeting Brown and visiting Winscombe Street convinced Cook that he had found the architect to design Camden’s future. Brown’s first project for Camden, Fleet Road, comprised 72 flats and a shop, with planted shared roof terraces and individual balconies and gardens. Built at the same density as a tower block, it rose from one to four stories. In later years Brown moved from Winscombe Street to Fleet Road, again becoming both resident architect and conscientious neighbor. Brown’s most famous project, Alexandra Road estate, was not so much a housing scheme as a microcosm of the modern city, incorporating a community center, two schools, shops, a youth club, and a maintenance depot, as well as 500 terraced homes along a gently curving street. Each flat has its front door to the street and a balcony facing south. The street and, parallel to it, a linear park contributed two new and distinctive public spaces to the city. Built at a time of rocketing inflation, the costs spiraled, and this, along with the uncompromising modernity of the design, caused controversy. The political changes brought by Margaret Thatcher effectively took housing out of the hands of local authorities and placed it with the national house builders. The future of London became, for a period, suburban in style and density. The experiment with low-rise high-density housing was stopped short, and Brown had to look beyond Britain for work. It was the public spaces of Alexandra Road and the integration of complex social facilities with housing that attracted the aldermen of The Hague to appoint Brown in 1987 to design a project of equivalent complexity and even higher density on the Zwolsestraat, marking the boundary of the city to the sand dunes and sea. Designed with David Porter, the project was at an advanced stage, with the building rising from the ground, when the developer-client determined to discard the intricate street-based public realm as designed and replace it with deck access. The architects relinquished the project. Brown was more successful with a delicate cluster of apartments built outside Bergamo in Italy and a second Dutch project, the Medina from 1993–2002, designed for central Eindhoven and aided by Jo Coenen, the state architect for Holland. In 2012, Brown was invited by the residents to join them to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the project’s completion. The architectural quality of Brown’s British projects was confirmed by their listing as historic monuments (Alexandra Road in 1993, Fleet Road in 2010, and Winscombe Street in 2014). As significant was Brown’s evident rapport with those that lived in the homes he designed. The listing of Alexandra Road as “Grade 2” (Buckingham palace is Grade 1) inspired the film, made in 2010 by residents about their experiences, entitled One Below the Queen. Alexandra Road was completed just as architects were becoming “postmodern.” Brown was not unhappy to be considered an ‘’old-fashioned modernist’’ remaining intellectually engaged with the formal language of architecture and its relevance to an inclusive society. The reappraisal of Brown’s work comes at a time when London’s population is rapidly growing, there is a housing shortage, and London’s skyline is under threat. We are again seeking new models for raising density but maintaining the scale of the city.
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Architectural Association fires nine staff members

The fate of the 16 Architectural Association (AA) staff members who were warned that their jobs were at risk in November has finally come to light. As reported by The Architect’s Journal, nine of the 16 were deemed “redundant” by the AA, and AA Files editor Tom Weaver has resigned. The cuts come as the London-based school has been roiled by financial issues. Samantha Hardingham, the AA’s interim director, told The Architect’s Journal that the reorganization was a response to a “massive” increase in rent and rates and the costs of an ongoing renovation of the school’s headquarters in Bedford Square. The school’s reorganization hasn’t been without pushback, as architects and critics from all over the world have expressed concern over the staff reductions and possible closing of the AA Files. Five of the eight positions at the AA’s publication department, responsible for producing the AA Files, have been slashed, and there are only two full-time staff members left there following Weaver’s departure. Despite the changes in recent years at the AA, the AA Files under Weaver has consistently been praised as the journal’s “golden years”. ‘The AA Files was one of the best things about the last 10 years at the association,” said Irenee Scalbert, a former AA professor and current member of the AA Files editorial board. “It found a good editor who is a big loss. To have a magazine is one thing; to have a good one with a capable editor is another. It was a sophisticated publication that gave evidence that the AA was good at architecture.” Hardingham has repeatedly stressed that the cuts are part of a larger reorganization process that will guarantee the school’s continued financial solvency. In addition to focusing more heavily on development, the school will also attempt to receive taught degree-awarding powers, which would allow them to award bachelor’s degrees. Two of the 16 aforementioned threatened staff members have been reassigned to different departments within the AA, while the remaining four have remained at their current positions.
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Architects protest AA publication staff cuts

Since the Architectural Association (AA) announced it would slash staff from its publications division last week, the architecture community in Britain and abroad has expressed deep concern over cuts that could impact the AA Files, the school's influential journal of record. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) has obtained copies of letters to the AA sent by alums, former teachers, design curators, and others. In a letter to AA Board of Trustees President David Porter, the three curators of MoMA's Department of Architecture and Design expressed "strongest concern" over the closing of the AA Files and the school's publications and exhibitions departments. Martino Stierli, chief curator; Barry Bergdoll, curator; and Sean Anderson, associate curator asked the AA to wait until a new director is appointed before making drastic changes to the institution. "While we do not have a full understanding of the complex situation that the school is facing in this difficult moment, we nevertheless unequivocally urge you to consider whether it might not be possible to work with interested parties to see if there is another solution," they said. The cuts come as the AA searches for a new director after director Brett Steele left in 2016 after 11 years of service. Interim director Samantha Hardingham has handled operations since Steele's departure. Alum Peter Wilson, founding principal of BOLLES+WILSON, expressed "shock and horror" at the decision to get rid of the AA Publications department. (Editor's note: The AA hasn't confirmed whether the division will be shut down entirely.) Writing to Hardingham, Tim Benton, professor emeritus of art history at the Open University and longtime AA instructor, addressed the difficult role of the interim director but asked the school to find a different money-saving alternative to staff cuts. "The AA has always published and exhibited," Benton said. "To downgrade the reputation of the school is not a wise move and those who decide to dumb down an historic institution should also be held accountable." Porter commented on the school's process in an email to AN: "No final decisions have yet been made in respect of AA publications or indeed any other function subject to restructuring proposals," he wrote. "Every effort is being made to ensure the essential value of these functions will not be lost." AN has reached out to Porter for additional comment on staff cuts, but has not heard back at press time. In a five-page memo from August, before staff cuts were announced, Archigram founder Peter Cook lamented the school's direction and what he sees as a cultural shift towards put-together "'corporate'" Ivy League–type students. "Whatever happened to those picky, witty, contentious, interesting, resourceful, Identifiable [sic] AA types? Did they die out?" Cook asked. The letters are collected here for public review, and AN will add to the folder as more letters reach our inbox.
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Architectural Association threatens to slash staff, publications to cut costs

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.
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Brett Steele, Architectural Association director, named new dean of UCLA School of Arts and Architecture

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has named Brett Steele, current director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (AA), as the new dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. The Los Angeles Times reports that Steele will assume the new role in Los Angeles starting in August 2017. Steele will replace interim dean David Roussève who was managing the school’s transition after the departure of the prior dean, Christopher Waterman, who served in the role for a dozen years. Steele is American-born but also has a naturalized British citizen status. He received a diploma in architecture from the AA and also studied at the University of Oregon and the San Francisco Art Institute. During his tenure at the AA, Steele launched, among other programs, a digital prototyping lab; a campus expansion to the rural community of Dorset, Britain; the creation of new, full-time Master of Science and Master of Philosophy graduate courses; and a new doctorate program in design. Steele also worked as a project architect at Zaha Hadid Architects over two stints, between 1986 and 1987 and once again between 1992 and 1993. Regarding his new appointment, the L.A. Times quotes Steele as saying, “What got my attention and interested me is the nature of the role at UCLA and the composition of the school. I think we live in a time when the ability to assemble and invent audiences is as crucial to schools as all of the attention that most of them give to individual artists and performers and architects and designers. It’s in my view two sides of the same coin. There are a few very special places in the world where that’s built into the DNA and UCLA is simply one of those places.” As part of his new position, Steele will be in charge not only of the educational components of the arts and architecture schools at UCLA, but also several aspects of the institution’s public arms, including the Hammer Museum, Fowler Museum, and Center for the Art of Performance.  For more information on Steele’s appointment, see the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design’s website.
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On View> The Cooper Union presents “Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky & the Architectural Association”

Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky & the Architectural Association Cooper Union 30 Cooper Square, New York Through November 25, 2015 Boasting a remarkable array of artwork from both past and contemporary architectural figures such as John Hejduk, Michael Webb, Daniel Libeskind, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Bernard Tschumi, Drawing Ambience reflects and encourages the late Alvin Boyarsky’s assimilation of architectural drawings. During his tenure at the Architectural Association in London, Boyarsky developed a profound appreciation of these drawings. Known as a man with a keen eye for talent, Boyarsky fostered many young architects who would later dominate the field. He urged his students to investigate contemporary issues and use the evolving global culture as a vehicle to develop their own architectural agendas. These agendas manifested in the students’ visual work that Boyarsky regarded as equally important to the physical structures they depicted, viewing them as pieces of architecture in their own right. Visitors can expect to see works ranging from Hadid’s chaotic and crisp visualizations of her un-built projects to Koolhaas’ playful, almost Gameboy-esque The Pleasure of Architecture. The exhibition is currently on view at the Cooper Union in the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery and closes on November 25.
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On View> Drawings by Hadid, Tschumi, Gehry, Libeskind, and Koolhaas are being exhibited right now in St. Louis

Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum Washington University in St. Louis 1 Brookings Dr, St Louis, MO Through January 4th The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis is currently exhibiting early drawings from some of the world’s leading architects including Zaha Hadid, Bernard Tschumi, Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, and Rem Koolhaas. The works come from the private collection of the late Alvin Boyarsky who chaired the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) in London from 1971 to 1990. The collection includes about 40 prints and drawings from the architects, and nine limited-edition folios published by the AA. Those folios include works from Peter Cook, Coop Himmelblau, and Peter Eisenman. “Drawing Ambience offers a rare glimpse into a pivotal moment in architectural history and the imaginative spirit of drawing that was and continues to be instrumental to the development of the field,” said the Kemper Museum in a statement. The exhibit was co-organized with the Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design and will travel to Providence in April. This is the first public museum exhibition of Boyarsky’s collection.
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Book Launch> Four Conversations

Last Friday night, AN's William Menking and Aaron Levy launched their new book Four Conversations on the Architecture of Discourse at the Van Alen Bookstore in Chelsea. The book's publisher, Thomas Weaver of the Architectural Association in London, and the Van Alen's Olympia Kazi we on hand to help frame the evening's discourse on discourse. The new book springs from an earlier effort called Architecture on Display: the History of the Venice Biennale of Architecture, aka "the white book." In true manifesto fashion, the group sidestepped the official Biennale promo machine by publishing the white book outside of the established Biennale channels and then blanketed the 2010 festival with more than 600 copies.  That book transcribed interviews with former Biennale directors and recovered an important history of the forum. From that quick and dirty approach emerged a longer term plot for the "black book" of Four Conversations, which focused architectural display and its relationship to the public. The new book transcribes four prosecco-fueled dinner conversations between fifty practitioners in four cities: Venice, New York, London, and Chicago. Aaron Levy said that as the white book was steeped with established practitioners,  the new book brings fresh perspective from students, young architects, as well the architectural media. In order to move the conversation toward new ground, participants were urged to avoid mentioning previous exhibitions as examples. Upon opening the Van Alen panel to questions, one audience member bypassed the topic of developing the architectural display discourse and questioned the very notion of presenting architecture as an art--since, he said, it is beholden to real-estate interests and the demands of the client--unlike, say, painting. The question threatened to push the conversation into "what is art" territory, before Weaver pointed out that even the term "curate" has yet to be recognized by Microsoft Word, demanding spellcheck each time its typed.  He added that while curating is a well established course of study in European academia, it remains relatively new here, making texts like Four Conversations all the more important. With a quiet evangelism, Weaver praised architectural book design (the AA series fits neatly in back pockets), but he added that the words shouldn't be eclipsed by the design, which remains difficult for the contemporary architect/author to resist.  Menking disagreed and hoisted Rem Koohaas's Project Japan out of the display window to use as an example. He noted that the book is text and image heavy, giving readers the option to flip through in fifteen minutes or spend hours on the text, depending on their mood. The conversation spurred Kazi to recall her student days when Koolhaas and Mau's  S, M, L, XL was on nearly every desk in the studio. Thought Kazi remained unsure if either form represented the future of architectural publishing in an anti-analogue age.