WAN Commercial Award 2014 winners announced

Francesca Maw
Friday 13 Mar 2015

Hard-fought competition recognises three outstanding projects

The WAN Commercial Award saw a huge range of fantastic projects entered into this category from offices, retail, hotels and tourism resorts. Having two sub categories: future and completed, we held two separate jury sessions to review the work. Judging the best commercial completed projects we had the pleasure of Earle Arney, Chief Executive of ARNEY FENDER KATSALIDIS; Jacqueline Beckingham, Director and Design Leader at Benoy and Stephen Pey, Associate Director at EPR Architects.

Judging the Commercial Award future projects we held a separate jury in LA, generously hosted by the AIA LA where we had a fantastic line u,p including; Mehrdad Yazdani, Director of the Yazdani Studio at Cannon Design, Ross Wimer, Head of AECOM’s national architecture and interiors practice and Jose Esteves De Matos, Director of De Matos Ryan who was judging remotely. 

After the WAN Commercial Award panels selected their shortlists for the completed and future sub-categories, the real debate started when choosing the winners of this diverse award. 

Here in the UK the jury panel were very impressed at the standard of all six shortlisted projects especially with both Bates Smart’s TransGrid Headquarters, 180 Thomas Street and Pearl Izumi North American Corporate Headquarters from Arch11 Inc. | ZGF Architects LLP. Jacqueline Beckingham commented on the process of picking a winner for this category “The rest of the projects have merits but these two stand out. I think I would like the Pearl Izumi North American Corporate Headquarters to win just because I think it is a beautiful response to the landscape and it is just so elegant and refined but I think that the Bates Smart TransGrid Headquarters is so clever it’s hard to say it shouldn’t be a winner also.” Earle Arney also commented saying “It’s quite a challenge isn’t it, I really appreciate the problem solving of the Bates Smart TransGrid Headquarters and I think it’s very clear and I am really taken by the shaping of Pearl Izumi North American Corporate Headquarters spatially and formerly. It’s quite interesting looking at the Pearl Izumi North American Corporate Headquarters juxtaposed to the Bates Smart TransGrid Headquarters. There is quite a delight to Pearl Izumi North American Corporate Headquarters, there is rusting cladding, open fields, mountains and its almost exotic because it’s so unfamiliar to us yet the TransGrid Headquarters is an urban repair which is a challenge in itself and very well executed indeed.”

After a lengthy discussion it was decided to award both Bates Smart’s TransGrid Headquarterss, 180 Thomas Street and Arch11 Inc. | ZGF Architects LLP Pearl Izumi North American Corporate Headquarters the winners of the commercial completed sub-category. Both of these projects are so different but show excellence in design with outstanding presentations. 

Our jury session in LA for the commercial future projects award had a selection of high standard presentations making it very difficult for our jury members to pick a winner. After lengthy discussion the The Noble Quran Oasis by Gerber Architekten came out top and was awarded commercial future projects winner. Jose Esteves De Matos our remote juror was very impressed with this project commenting “Not an 'object' building, the cracked crust roof planes allows a potentially interesting series of spaces to develop beneath.  The build's 'story' has a careful and not overtly explicitly relationship with the brief as a centre for the study of the Quran, delivering a sustainable and contemplative environment for study.” Mehrdad Yazdani also commented on this project saying “The aspects of this project that I like is the references to the Islamic architecture, its geometry, the relationship to the landscape and the way it filters the harsh sunlight and takes advantage of this in the exhibition spaces or creating more temporary indoor/outdoor spaces.” And last but not least, Ross Wimer added some great comments on this winning project by saying “For me what I find really exciting about this project is the architect is close to achieving a good balance between a building that is an object and a building that is really embedded in the context. I like this idea that you move into the space in a very modest way. This is a place that you would want to visit, it’s compelling and very different as an idea. It’s similar to many things you have seen before but they have arranged these components in a different way.” 

Thank you to all who participated in the WAN Commercial Award 2014 and huge congratulations to our three winners Gerber Architekten, Bates Smart and Arch11 Inc. | ZGF Architects LLP. 

An extract from the jury session, Earl Arney gives an insight into the winning completed commercial projects: beginning with TransGrid Headquarters, 180 Thomas Street and concluding with Pearl Izumi North American Corporate Headquarters. 


Francesca Maw

Senior Awards Co-ordinator

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