Last week, some of the greatest minds in building effectiveness gathered in London to debate the twenty-six longlisted entries for the 2011 WAN AWARDS Effectiveness Award. The seven specialists were sourced from an array of highly respected establishments across a range of fields, with Gokay Deveci, Professor and Architect at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and the Built Environment lending his experience and Larry Speck, Principal at one of last year’s winning practices PageSoutherlandPage flying over from Texas to offer his garnered knowledge on the subject in person. Frank Greene of 2010’s second triumphant winner, Ricci Greene Associates, acted as a remote judge from New York. Also attending the London session were Quintain Estates and Development’s Julian Tollast, Richard Mazuch of Nightingale Associates, Arup’s Tom Foulkes and Chairman of the award’s sponsor Buro Happold, Gavin Thompson.
Discussions on the quality of submissions waged throughout the morning, with Gavin Thompson concluding: “What [the standard of entries] highlights is that when you bring the effectiveness side of things into the judging it’s quite a long way away from the way that architecture is normally judged and I think that came through on the submissions.” Tom Foulkes, Marketing Director at Arup was quick to pick up on this, contrasting the Effectiveness Awards with the infinite other architectural prizes on ‘the awards carousel’. He clarified: “Actually what’s really interesting is that some of the buildings that have been operating longest attracted the best entries because they forced a revisiting of how their architecture has fared.”
WAN AWARDS jury meetings often spawn lengthy debates as the judges bring their own unique ideas of what constitutes ‘quality architecture’ to the fore. On this occasion the point in question was the necessity of an architect on one project in particular - John McAslan + Partners’ Iron Market scheme in Haiti. Ravaged by fire and the devastating earthquake of January 2010, the century-old artisanal gathering place has now been restored to its former glory however the discussion between our jurors centred on the importance of the architect’s role. It was argued by some that ‘what’s been done there could’ve been done without an architect. Not the original building 100 years ago but what’s on the table is a piece of architecture that has been built by the community’. This point was counteracted by others within the group who felt that this was a gross generalisation and questioned whether other restorations or conversions in the pack should be reconsidered as a result. After a prolonged (and sometimes heated) dialogue it was concluded by Julian Tollast that ‘against all the odds, now [The Iron Market] is there as a beacon of new hope in the heart of Haiti’. The project was thus given the title of Commended.
The shortlist consists of six groundbreaking projects with two commended schemes which the jury felt didn’t quite reach the same level of greatness as the shortlisted entries but deserved a special mention for their considered design details. Just before the winner was selected, Larry Speck interjected that ‘the only downside to the list is that there are three schools in the six’. Tom Foulkes saw the silver lining though, proposing that ‘that might be a message that because the client is effectively pupils, architects spend a lot longer considering them because they are sensitive to kids - the cult of children’. The results are as follows:
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, Canada - KPMB Architects
Kingsdale School, London, United Kingdom - dRMM Architects
The East Harlem School, New York, United States - Peter Gluck and Partners
Vancouver Convention Centre West, Vancouver, Canada - LMN + MCM/DA
Google Headquarters, Mountain View, United States - Clive Wilkinson Architects
Bridge Academy, London, United Kingdom - BDP