Demand by Ed Jones, Rogers and Adjaye would be ‘unconstitutional’, says company secretary

Architectural association hq

The Architectural Association in Bedford Square

The AA’s management has attempted to seize back the initiative in the bitter conflict that has broken out over cuts at the institution.

A raft of leading architects, including Edward Jones, Richard Rogers and David Adjaye, are trying to force an emergency meeting under Article 22 of the school’s constitution. They want to challenge threatened redundancies which they fear could severely weaken its cultural output, including exhibitions and the journal AA Files.

But company secretary Holly Bowden dismissed their demand as unconstitutional because she said the rules stipulate members convening the meeting must be “registered members” of the governing Council.

“As such the broader membership of the association do not have a constitutional right to convene a general meeting in this way,” she told BD.

Instead the AA will invite the signatories of Jones’ letter to an “information meeting” with president David Porter, Council members and the AA’s senior management.

“We will make that communication directly with those individuals as they are all long-standing friends of the AA,” said Bowden. “We appreciate that the desire for dialogue extends beyond the school community.” Interim director Samantha Hardingham has been meeting with students and staff in a bid to reassure them.

Bowden said no decisions - such as reversing the redundancy announcement - could be made until after the period of consultation with the staff whose jobs are at risk.

Meanwhile the AA engaged a leading international arts PR company, Bolton & Quinn, to issue a bullish statement on behalf of Hardingham who insisted that all the AA’s cultural activities would continue. Bowden refused to be drawn on whether they were paying Bolton & Quinn for their services, but said there was a “long standing friendship between it and our members”.

While thanking the people concerned about the direction the AA is taking, Hardingham pointedly added: “I sincerely hope that the intense interest that is currently being shown will be translated into tangible support and generosity for our students and the school that we all love so dearly.”

Hardingham, who has been a studio tutor at the AA since 2008, is the first woman in the top job. The school is keen to point out that her appointment coincides with the centenary of Women at the Architectural Association.

Samantha Hardingham’s statement, issued by Bolton & Quinn

“I would like to thank all the people who have been in touch with me in recent weeks to express their concern about the future of the AA and I would like to reassure them that all the things for which the AA is well-known and admired will continue in the future.

“All the activities of the AA will remain; the AA will continue to publish exceptional books and publications including the AA Files; the AA will continue to exhibit great and ground-breaking work; the AA will continue to fund-raise. And to all who have written and commented on our current financial circumstances, the AA will most definitely continue to reach out for funding support for much needed scholarships and bursaries to help the most talented students from the UK and around the world to study at the AA. We will continue to seek funds for special projects that push us to expand our architectural horizons.

“In order to address our future, the AA is entering into a period of discussion with its students, staff, trustees, alumni and supporters. This week the AA’s School Community has been meeting together and joining in an open conversation to become better informed about how to imagine our future. I sincerely hope that the intense interest that is currently being shown will be translated into tangible support and generosity for our students and the School that we all love so dearly.”