The school said Gilabert had “failed to develop and implement a strategy and maintain the confidence of the AA School Community which were specific failures of performance against clear objectives outlined in the original contract of employment.”
Gilabert's position at the institution had seemed untenable since late June, when an electronic ballot held by the AA found that more than 80 per cent of its close to 900-strong “school community” did not support her 2020-25 strategic plan. Franch i Gilabert also lost a vote of confidence by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in her role as director of the AA.
Following the vote, Franch i Gilabert's future was in the hands of the school's council. This body announced its decision today.
The council said: “It is with regret that AA Council has terminated the employment contract of its Director, Eva Franch i Gilabert.
“At the heart of the decision is the failure to develop and implement a strategy and maintain the confidence of the AA School Community which were specific failures of performance against clear objectives outlined in the original contract of employment.
“Following the meeting and vote of the School Community on June 29, Council undertook a series of meetings and consultations with Ms Franch i Gilabert to give her the opportunity to outline her plans to rectify these issues. Unfortunately, the discussions did not provide Council with the confidence that she could fulfil her role as School Director of the AA, one of the leading architecture schools in the world.
“Council recognises how difficult this period has been for many people within the AA School Community and thanks them for their heartfelt and thoughtful feedback. Council will now work closely with the senior management team, staff and students to manage the school in the short term and to clarify the role of the School Director going forward before a new search process begins.”
Following the vote of no confidence, a number of leading figures from architecture signed an open letter backing Franch i Gilabert, praising her as “one of the most inspired leaders and radical thinkers of a younger generation of architects”. The letter cited the potential of gender bias and “pandemic turmoil” in the vote against Franch i Gilabert.
This letter, however, was in turn strongly criticised in a letter penned by AA tutors Ricardo Ruivo and Will Orr. Ruivo and Orr labelled the initial letter “grossly uninformed and misguided” and “an attack made in bad faith, a manifesto of false, neoliberal, trickle-down progressivism.” The letter also cited “allegations against [Franch i Gilabert] of worker abuse and bullying, with prominent cases being brought forth by women staff.”
Franch i Gilabert was appointed to the role at the AA in 2018, leaving her former position as chief curator and executive director of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York. Prior to joining the school she was interviewed by Disegno about her plans for the instituiton.