WAN hosts first jury meeting in NYC

Monday 13 Aug 2012

US Correspondent Sharon McHugh runs WAN's first jury panel in New York to determine Civic Sector Shortlist

This is the first year that WAN has held an awards jury in New York. I was honoured to Chair the day’s event as our expert panel, hosted by Grimshaw Architects, took to the task of deliberating the merits of 35 longlisted projects for nearly four hours.

Each project was evaluated on a number of fronts, including how it addressed the street, whether its form spoke to its function, the quality of the visitor experience, the sequencing of spaces and sense of arrival and entry, the pedestrian experience up to and through the building, the responsibility to the environment, and how each balanced security and openness. But by far, the criteria that mattered most to this jury was the project’s contribution to the civic realm; how it engages the community and context around it and makes it better. This after all is the charge of civic architecture - to invite or engage the public in a meaningful way. No one project was exempt from meeting this basic requirement. In fact, many promising projects were eliminated early on for being what the judges called, ‘good projects in the wrong category’. Great architecture, perhaps…but without a convincing civic gesture or nod to the collective, they were toast.

If anyone knows good civic architecture when they see it, it is perhaps the jury assembled here; architects with a distinguished record for civic place-making. Our New York judges were Andrew Whalley, Deputy Chairman of Grimshaw Architects, whose firm has received over 100 architecture and civic design awards; Adam Yarinsky, whose firm ARO was the 2012 winner of the National Design Award in Architecture from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum; David Burney, Commissioner of Design and Construction for the City of New York, who, in addition to winning the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Medal for exemplary civil service, has been a tireless advocate of design excellence in the public realm and has raised the ‘design bar’ for public work in New York City; Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Principal of Bjarke Ingles Group, whose firm has quickly risen through the ranks to become ‘The new face of civic design’, [Wall Street Journal], and Vishaan Chakrabarti, Principal of SHoP Architects and Chair of Columbia University’s school of real estate development, who brings to the judging table the invaluable perspective of an architect working in the public realm with experience on the development side of projects and an academic with visionary thinking.

Joining our judges in New York were remote judges Lyndon Neri, Founder of Neri & Hu, a former WAN Award winner, who quickly cut a path from Michael Graves office and Post Modernism to be named among the 2009 Vanguard practices in America by Architecture Record magazine; and Femi Oresanya, Vice President and architect with HOK, who holds key responsibility for developing that firm’s work in the civic sector.

Of the 35-longlisted projects, nine advanced to the short list, moving ever so much closer to the possibility of being named a winner. As is often the case with design juries, there are lessons to be learned and a few surprises. And this jury was no exception, with a winner in both the built and unbuilt categories and a Special Commendation Award for ‘a project of exceptional quality with a promising future legacy’. But more on that next week when we announce the winners.

Today we celebrate the shortlisted projects and the practices and clients who brought them to fruition. Listed in no particular order and supported with jury comments, the shortlisted projects for the 2012 WAN Civic Awards are:

Civic Shortlists


Model Home Gallery, South Korea - NADAAA
-“A terrific idea…a sales office that gets repurposed for community use”
-“Very transparent to the street”
-“A natural flow up to and into the building”
-“The most urban building we’ve seen today”
-“ Really appreciate a client who thinks long term versus short term”

Louisiana State Museum Sports Hall of Fame, USA - Trahan Architects
-“Appreciate the effort to relate to the existing context and typologies”
-“Interesting and unique way to do a museum experience”
-“Sophisticated strategies for cladding the building”
-“Overall level of detail and articulation is high”
-“Quite nicely crafted”
-“Looks very expensive”

The Rock Stadium, UAE - MZ Architects
-“Jumps past the recent past and gets back to connection with topography and site in a very literal way”
- “Would like to see it realized as rendered”


Santa Lucia Security Centre, Spain - gpy architectos
- “Challenging program because of security but managed to keep it open and transparent”
- “Located in a fairly distressed neighbourhood. Rather than build a fortress it’s trying to engage it at some level”
- “Happy it made the short list. It’s important for civic clients that these buildings don’t become boxes”
- “It balances the image of the street with the neighbourhood”
- “Through its diagram it balances the image of the state and the accommodation of the local”

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, UK - BFLS
- “Finally a theatre that looks like a theatre”
- “It clearly expresses the different functions”
- “It relates to its landscape setting and its use of timber is nicely handled”

Archipelago Cinema, Thailand - Buro Ole Scheeren
- “It’s a model. A prototype. With intentions of being replicated globally”
- “This is the way everybody should see movies”
- “Civic in a natural setting. Somewhat remote yet with amazing civic presence”
- “So romantic. A bit of fantasy”
- “Both diagrammatic and temporal - a bit like what Lollapalooza is like”

Ping Shan Tin Shui Wai Leisure and Cultural Building, Hong Kong - Architectural Services Department, Hong Kong SAR Government
- “An unfolding of spaces - the way it is conceived in terms of the pedestrian experience”
- “Story is beautifully told”
- “It deftly handles a lot of complexity both in terms of program and material”
- “Coherent”
- “We commend the Hong Kong City Architects”

London 2012 Velodrome, UK - Hopkins Architects
- “Beautifully handled as a building”
- “Innovative structural solution to a large span”
- “One of the centerpieces of the urban regeneration of Stratford”
- “Simple elegance”
- “Clearly thinking about all the right issues…how it relates to the city and the spectator experience and how it relates to a future urban landscape around it”

Cluj Arena, Romania - DICO si TIGANAS
- “Elegant form of enclosure”
- “Porous skin”
- “Nice to see an existing stadium reused”
- “The spectator experience is quite nicely done”
- “You wouldn’t be unhappy sitting anywhere here. Every seat is a good seat”

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

Key Facts:

Civic Buildings

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