Seven buildings, representing the widest range of architectural skills, will contest the 2001 RIBA Stirling Prize, sponsored by The Architectsâ€™ Journal. The seven, chosen following a series of visits to a longer list by the RIBA Awards Group, are being visited this week and next by the Stirling Prize jury.
Details and images of the shortlisted projects are below and are available here.
The schemes are: the Eden Project; Magna Centre; The Lawns, the National Portrait Gallery Extension; The Surgery; Portcullis House and Westminster Underground Station; and the British Embassy in Berlin. The contending
projects cover the widest range of subjects and practice types in the history of the award, ranging from Gold Medallist Michael Hopkins to two
new practices, Guy Greenfield Architects and Eldridge Smerin. Lottery projects are well represented, with one international contender, Michael Wilford, a previous winner for another German building, the music centre in Stuttgart.
RIBA awards chair Ian Davidson instantly defended what was a tough decision to include Michael Hopkins & Partnersâ€™ controversial Portcullis House building in Westminster â€“ dubbed the most expensive office block in Britain. "There was a very intense and passionate debate with clearly strong opinions in both directions", he said. "But itâ€™s an important civic building of demonstrable quality and we may only come to appreciate its quality perhaps 100 years down the line."
Head of awards Tony Chapman added that the Â£235 million building was a significant piece of architecture, worthy of being assessed for the main award, while "overspending" in the profession was "unfortunately not an uncommon problem".
When approved in 1992, the building was expected to cost Â£165 million. But inflation and delays in construction led to the total costs exceeding Â£235 million â€“ more than Â£1 million per MP housed there. It also caused the National Audit Office to investigate elements like the Â£30 million which went on bronze cladding and Â£10 million on legal wrangles. "You canâ€™t blame architecture for that," said Davidson. "Did the project go over budget or did the client spend more than they should?"
But while the Hopkins office will celebrate this week, previous winner Stephen Hodder will be dismayed â€“ his National Wildflower Centre in Liverpool was rejected by the judges. The Â£1.7 million sculptured inhabited wall was the nearest of those not making the final seven. "Judges felt it was a good piece of architecture let down by the build," said Chapman. "Its built quality was disappointing."
The judges also rejected from its "mid-list" Ushida Findlayâ€™s Pool House; Patel Taylorâ€™s Thames Barrier Park; and Oâ€™Donnell and Tuomeyâ€™s Connemara West Furniture College, in Letterfrack, County Galway, Ireland.
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