by Brett Steele, AA Director (originally published in AArchitecture 20)
19 October 2013 Diploma Corridor, Bedford Square     This 1984 print shows ‘Christina’s World’, looking southwest along a major thoroughfare at the intersection of Neal Street, Earlham Street and Shorts Gardens in London. The view captures the lively vitality of a historic neighbourhood, Covent Garden, which Christina Smith has played an essential role in protecting, improving and promoting for some fifty years. In the 1970s and 1980s Christina was central in saving Covent Garden from its planned destruction – the GLC wanted to knock down the fruit market to make way for commercial redevelopment.    Thanks to Christina’s generosity and vision, for many years AA students enjoyed studio space in the Seven Dials Warehouse building, shown on the right-hand side of this picture. In 2013 Christina made another generous, historic donation to AA life: the Christina A Smith Bequest. This financial gift was made for the explicit purpose of improving our school, including our historic buildings here in Bedford Square. 
      The first portion of this immensely generous donation has been used to complete new openings and a hallway connecting nos 36 & 37 Bedford Square. With this project now complete all unit spaces of the AA’s entire Diploma School, as well as its eight listed buildings facing Bedford Square, are joined together along a single, shared passage – commemorated here as ‘Smith’s Passage’.   [caption id="attachment_2119" align="alignnone" width="360"] drawing of the corridor connecting the Diploma unit spaces
Image Credit: Eleanor Dodman[/caption]   Already nicknamed ‘Via Christina’, this passageway brings together the Diploma School and enhances not only the educational but also the social life of the entire AA. We all thank Christina for this gift, in addition to her many years of support, guidance and inspiration.   Thank you Christina for making the AA world so much better, and for making our world part of yours.
[caption id="attachment_2120" align="alignnone" width="239"] Christina Smith at the opening of the Diploma corridor
Image credit: Valerie Bennett[/caption]   For more information: Read AArchitecture 20 online The AA Masterplan