Civic winners revealed at WAD

Monday 01 Oct 2012

Hopkins Architects and NADAAA win the 2012 WAN AWARDS Civic Building Sector

WAN's Editor in Chief Michael Hammond has just presented Hopkins Architects' Chris Bannister with a certificate at World Architecture Day as the winner of the completed category in the 2012 WAN AWARDS Civic Building sector.

It’s ironic that the winner of the 2012 Civic Awards is British practice Hopkins Architects for its design of the London 2012 Velodrome. I say ironic, as we moved the awards judging out of London this year what with the Olympics looming, only to have the Brits take home the gold. But all joking aside, the Velodrome isn’t just a good project by a leading British practice, it’s a great stadium, as this jury rightly noted and a project that promises to go a long way toward the regeneration of the Stratford. ‘It had clarity and a degree of restraint’ and ‘simple elegance’ said one juror while another noted it as having a ‘good form for the program’. The jurors found it to be ‘beautifully handled as a building’ with an innovative structural solution to a large span.

The Velodrome was but one of the winners this year, taking home first prize in the built category. Joining it in the unbuilt category was an elegantly crafted piece of architecture, which, at first glance, had us all wondering what a sales office for a housing development was doing in the civic awards program? How could a private project possibly speak to civic engagement? On closer inspection, the jury noted that the project, a Model Home Gallery in South Korea, had a future legacy. Once the units were sold the sales office would be converted to a community center. The idea of a private development that endeavored to be socially responsible had great appeal to this jury. It certainly didn’t hurt the project any, which was designed by NADAAA, that it was also a good piece of architecture that was exceptionally well crafted and made several meaningful gestures to the area around it. For those who haven’t been staying in touch, NADAAA is the newly formed practice of Nader Tehrani, the English born architect who is head of MIT and was formerly a founding partner at Office dA.

Our New York judges were Andrew Whalley, Deputy Chairman of Grimshaw Architects; 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; Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Principal of Bjarke Ingles Group; and Vishaan Chakrabarti, Principal of SHoP Architects and Chair of Columbia University’s school of real estate development.

As the jury made its way through the 35 entries, sorting them into three piles of yeses, maybes and nos, in addition to the Velodrome and the Model Home Gallery, a third project stood out. But what to make of it was the question. That project was the Archipelago Cinema, Thailand designed by Buro Ole Scheeren. It is a movie theatre plopped in the middle of the sea and as one of our jurors noted ‘it is the way everybody should see movies’.

But was it civic? One juror said yes. ‘Something can be very civic in a natural setting’ and this project, as another juror pointed out ‘is a model that can be replicated’ and indeed that was the intention. Scheeren is apparently working on the concept for other locations. ‘It’s both diagrammatical and temporal at the same time, a bit like what lollapalozza is like’ said another juror. And so it was unanimous that the Archipelago Cinema ‘a project that was so romantic’ and had a ‘bit of fantasy’ receive a special commendation award.

These projects are all big contributors to the cities and communities in which they are located- bringing something special and or necessary to make the world around us a better place to be.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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