About this talk

Running time: 28 minutes

The Architectural Association School of Architecture in London is unlike any other school of architecture in the world. Brought into being in 1847 by a number of students, it continues to this day its tradition of self-directed education. It has no curriculum but is organised on the basis of teachers who offer projects and students who choose to work for them from an appetite for the activities programmed. The teachers, none of them tenured, are people well-known and active in the field of ideas etc. There are lectures and seminars all day and every day, and exhibitions and a publishing house to disseminate all this to a wider audience. The School has a truly international intake of students and staff, and is today London's gathering-place and social centre for architecture.

In 1971, however, when this remarkable School had been about to close down for reasons beyond its control, a small band of committed architects and students formed a new constitution involving the wishes of the school community as a whole. Their selected new Chairman was the Canadian Alvin Boyarsky, graduate of McGill and Cornell, who had once taught at the School but had left to become Dean of the College of Architecture and Art at the University Of Illinois at Chicago Circle. He had already demonstrated the necessary expertise at his two highly successful International Institute of Design Summer Schools in London in 1970 and 1971.

He set the AA School in a new direction from which it has not looked back and he says in his talk, "It is possible for a school of architecture to rise above the everyday business of training to involve itself in the history of ideas and the formulation of new concepts".

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Alvin Boyarsky


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