Dezeen Magazine

Head of the Bartlett, Bob Sheil, has called for an overhaul of the architecture education

Bob Sheil resigns as Bartlett director following report into school's "toxic" culture

Bartlett director Bob Sheil has stepped down in response to yesterday's report highlighting bullying, racism and sexual misconduct at the London architecture school.

Sheil resigned yesterday ahead of the publication of the results of an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct at the Bartlett School of Architecture, which is part of University College London (UCL).

"Yesterday, prior to the publication of the independent investigation by Howlett Brown, professor Bob Sheil took a personal decision to stand down from his role as director of the Bartlett School of Architecture," said a spokesperson for UCL. "He remains a UCL member of staff."

Toxic culture spanning decades at Bartlett

The report created by legal consultancy Howlett Brown stated that there had been a "toxic learning and teaching culture" spanning decades at the institution, which is rated the UK's best architecture school according to the QS World Rankings.

Appointed in 2016, Sheil's second term as director was due to come to an end in September when professor Amy Kulper will take over the role.

Following Sheil's resignation professor Jacqui Glass was appointed interim director of the school "with immediate effect".

Calls for Sheil "to permanently leave the Bartlett"

Sheil has not resigned his position as a professor at the architecture school. Bartlett United, an organisation established to follow up on numerous claims of discrimination at the school, called for Sheil and Bartlett dean Christoph Lindner to "permanently leave" the institution.

"Bob Sheil stepping down weeks before UCL gives him a new senior role as professor is inadequate," said a Bartlett United spokesperson.

"Bartlett United calls on both Bob Sheil and Christoph Lindner to permanently leave the Bartlett and not be permitted to return."

Yesterday's report found that the culture bullying culture was created by the school's set-up and a small group of staff.

Howlett Brown was appointed by UCL to investigate the Bartlett in October 2021 after former student Eleni Kyriacou first exposed numerous allegations of racism and sexism at the school.

Its damning 120-page report contains the results of interviews, discussions and surveys with more than 300 former students, current students and staff.

"Inexcusable and pernicious underbelly of bullying"

In response to the report, UCL president Michael Spence said that the university was "committed to taking action" as "something has gone terribly wrong" at the school.

"Their testimonies expose an inexcusable and pernicious underbelly of bullying and other unacceptable behaviour that is completely at odds with the values on which UCL was founded," said Spence.

UCL said it was immediately suspending some staff from student-facing and administrative duties although it was unable to share their pending further internal investigations.

The Bartlett is not the only architecture and design school to face allegations of racism with Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) recently introducing a series of initiatives to address the racism that it said had "pervaded systems and structures" at the school "for decades".