Olympic East London Property on Track to Scoop Architectural Prize
As the Olympics site takes shape, a new London cycling arena has been shortlisted as the best new building in Europe. The Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) has announced the 6 contenders for its coveted Stirling Prize – the most prestigious award in the world of architecture – and amongst the favourites is the Olympic Velodrome building, in Stratford.
The 6,000 seat capacity Velodrome was the first piece of the London 2012 jigsaw to open in February this year and if betting odds are any judge it is on track to take the £20,000 prize, with William Hill ranking it the 2/1 favourite.
Designed by Hopkins Architects, with its 250-metre Siberian pine track and red cedar roof cladding, it has been dubbed ‘The Pringle’ because of its distinctive saddle shape which echoes the curve of – what is claimed to be the world’s fastest – cycling track.
Hugh Pearman, architecture critic for the Sunday Times called the Velodrome “one hell of a good building”. Quadruple Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy, 34 has also given his seal of approval “It is an incredible venue and you can sense what it is going to be like with all the fans hopefully waving Union Jacks. The track is fast and, with all the natural light, it works so well.” he said.
When announcing the names on the six building shortlist, RIBA president Ruth Reed said: “The Riba Stirling Prize celebrates architectural excellence and this year we have another outstanding collection of culturally significant buildings on the shortlist – projects that have each made a significant contribution to the evolution of architecture.”
2011 Stirling Prize shortlist
- An Gaelaras Architect: O’Donnell and Tuomey
- Angel Building Architect: AHMM
- Evelyn Grace Academy Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
- Museum Folkwang Architect: David Chipperfield Architects
- Royal Shakespeare Theatre Architect: Bennetts Associates
- The Velodrome Architect: Hopkins Architects
However amongst the architectural community, there was some consternation that the chosen projects lacked the wow-factor. In particular, Oliver Wainwright of Building Design magazine felt that this year’s Stirling Prize shortlist is both “shocking” and “joyless”.
Although, Mr Wainwright felt that overall The Angel Building was the best of a bad bunch. The radically refurbished office space London EC1 is prominently located at the corner of St. John Street and Pentonville Road, was once the dismal concrete-clad home to British Telecom’s former offices, but has since been revitalized by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) architects on behalf of Derwent London, the City office developer. The Islington office building boasts its own café, several specially-commissioned works of art and large rooftop terraces with spectacular views of St Paul’s Cathedral.
The winner of the prize, which was first awarded in 1996, will be announced on Sunday 1st October at Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, and will scoop a cash prize of £20,000.
Find out more about the RIBA Stirling Prize here.