An education in architecture

Niki May Young
27 Oct 2008

WAF super jury announce Università Luigi Bocconi as World Building of the Year 2008

A jury of architectural royalty have named Università Luigi Bocconi in Milan as World Building of the Year 2008 at the inaugural World Architecture Festival Awards. Barcelona played host to over 2000 visitors to the Centre Convencions International this week and welcomed the crème de la crème of architects to decide upon the winner. WAN were there to report live from the event which saw 722 entries from 63 countries across 17 categories. Following three days of presentations the University, designed by Grafton Architects in Ireland, claimed the title and can now be considered as a benchmark for international architecture.

Lord Norman Foster was due to chair the jury but stepped down when one of his projects, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, won best in the category of New and Old and entered the final. Holding the fort, however, were Robert Stern, Dean of Yale School of Architecture, Charles Jencks, Author of The New Paradigm in Architecture, Cecil Balmond, Deputy Chairman of Ove Arup & Partners, Richard Burdett, Centennial Professor in Architecture and Urbanism at the London School of Economics and Suha Ozkan of the XXI Architecture Centre, Ankara.

Speaking before the announcement, RIBA President Sunand Prasad told WAN that judges should be looking for a building that would produce ideas for the future. Following the announcement the judges praised Grafton Architects who, though not from Milan, succeeded in distilling the essence of the city into a confident, contemporary form. Speaking at the WAF Awards Paul Finch, WAF programme director and editor of Architectural Review, said: “Our congratulations go to Grafton Architects. The super-jury had an interesting debate, which could have continued for several days. The winning building has a heavy relationship with the landscape of Milan and has the capacity to make a profound difference to the lives of its users. Grafton Architects have opened up the past of the city with a 21st century attitude.”

Directors of Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara commented: “We are delighted to have won this accolade for what is the biggest project we have ever undertaken. We were trying to make the University a miniature city where public realm connects with the rest of the city and the campus provides a window to Milan. Being in the city for 6 years we have grown to love this project, which has changed our lives. A wonderful client, place and ambition all contribute to good architecture, and we had all three.”

The WAF Awards are the first international architecture awards to present a direct competition between such different categories with other finalists including a sheep stable in the Pleasure category and the rejuvenation of an old rubbish dump in the Energy, Waste & Recycling category. In this week’s News Review we showcase some of WAN’s favourite finalists and other highlights from the event...

Niki May Young
News Editor

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