By India Block
Ten of the sixteen staff members whose roles had been up for redundancy have left the architecture school, as reported in the Architects’ Journal.
Dezeen understands that Tom Weaver resigned from his post as editor of in house journal the AA files, while nine roles across the publications, exhibitions and fundraising departments were made redundant.
Adjaye and Rogers were among the 21 members of the AA who wrote to the school’s council in December 2017 requesting that it reconsider the decision and come up with an alternative solution.
In November, AA alumni including architects Rem Koolhaas, Adam Caruso, Kazuyo Sejima, Phyllis Lambert and Toyo Ito signed a letter warning that the cuts risked the AA losing its reputation for “cutting-edge debate”.
The beleaguered AA has maintained the staff cuts were necessary to plug a hole in the 170 year old school’s finances.
The need for the school to balance its books is particularly pressing, the AA has claimed, due to its decision to apply for Degree Awarding Powers (DAP) this year.
Currently the school awards no qualifications of its own, and if UK visa regulations change it may not be able to guarantee overseas students can remain in the country and at the school.
The AA, which is a registered charity, relies on students as its main source of income, and a sudden loss of their non-UK resident students could plunge it in to a financial crisis overnight.
The school has also faced rising rents for its Bloomsbury address, with soaring land values in central London compounded by the development of a Crossrail terminal at Tottenham Court Road.
An additional cost is the Wright and Wright redesign of the AA’s Grade I headquarters, which will unify the school’s departments at its Bedford Square location.
However, the school’s cultural offering has been an integral part of its identity since its inception, and many are afraid the cuts will cause irreversible damage to this area of the institution’s offering.
Accusations the school was “destroying its own cultural mission” were hotly denied, and the AA has been adamant that the departments will continue to function, holding exhibitions and publishing the AA Files.
The school’s founding charter enshrines a “mandate to promote architecture through publishing”.
The publications department, which is responsible for putting out the AA Files along with the architectural books produced by the AA, was almost entirely gutted. Only two roles remain in the department: one graphic designer and one editor.
The redundancies have been carried out under Hardingham, who took up the temporary directorship last summer after director of 11 years, Brett Steele, left.
Applications for the role of director are currently being considered, with the successful candidate expected to be announced at the end of January.
Dezeen has approached the AA for comment.
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