London’s Architectural Association has named the British-American architect and academic Ingrid Schroder as its new director, making her the second woman to ever hold the post.
She will take up the role in August 2022, almost a year after the school’s former director and Catalan architect Eva Franch i Gilabert was fired from the position.
Schroder “to help tune the AA’s voice”
“The AA is a nimble place of debate – it is a unique environment in which to wrestle with the implications of what lies ahead,” reflected Schroder.
“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 is currently head of design teaching at the University of Cambridge‘s architecture department, where she has taught for more than 20 years.
She also directs the university’s MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design (MAUD) course, which she established in 2012.
Her appointment as director is the result of a vote by students, faculty and council members, held after each candidate presented to the school in April.
The AA, which was founded in 1847, has a unique governance system in which a group of around 1,500 staff and students, known as the school community, votes on the school’s key decisions. These votes are then advisory to the council when making its decisions.
Alongside directing the MAUD course at Cambridge, Schroder lectures on architectural history and urban theory and is heavily involved in research on new pedagogical models, climate change, and architecture of the American Revolutionary period.
Her previous teaching roles have included studio tutoring at the AA and ETH Zurich, lecturing at Central St Martins and being a visiting critic at the EPFL Lausanne, the Royal College of Art, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and CEPT University in Ahmedabad.
She also co-authored a book called African Modernism, published in 2014, which explores the architecture of the independence movements in countries including Ghana and Senegal.
Five candidates competed for role
Shroder was selected for the role ahead of the architecture school’s own head of teaching Mark Morris and its tutors John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, as well Andrew Clancy of Irish studio Clancy Moore Architects and University of California professor Jill Stoner.
“As an architect, teacher and leader Dr Schroder brings decades of experience and a compelling perspective on the future of architectural education and practice to the role of director,” said AA Council president Victoria Thornton.
“During the process of selection, she demonstrated a clear vision to preserve the independence and spirit of the school, to facilitate innovation and nurture new talent.”
The AA’s director spot has been vacant since July 2020, following the dismissal of Franch i Gilabert who lost a vote of confidence.
News follows Eva Franch i Gilabert’s dismissal
Franch i Gilabert had been made the first female director of the school in 2018. She was fired over a vote against her proposed strategic plan for 2020 to 2025.
In this vote, eighty per cent of the Architectural Association community members who voted were not in favour of her strategy. The vote of no confidence passed by 52 per cent.
The decision came under fire from a number of other industry figures, such as the AA’s former teacher Elia Zenghelis who thought it could “put the school and its future in serious jeopardy”.
Eyal Weizman, a former AA student and founder of the research agency Forensic Architecture, told Dezeen that “it is an open secret that the vote of no confidence was mobilised by allegations of bullying by the director and of sexism towards her”.
In a letter to the AA, signed by more than 200 architects and academics, the school was asked to consider whether gender bias had influenced its decision.
The portrait of Shroder is by Sue Barr.
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