The Olympic Stadium and New Court, the headquarters of the Rothschild banking group, are on the six-strong shortlist for the Stirling prize, widely recognised as British architecture’s most prestigious gong.
The inclusion of the Olympic Stadium, designed by Populous, marks the second year in a row that a London 2012 building has made the grade: last year it was the Velodrome, which eventualy lost out to the Evelyn Grace Academy, a school in Lambeth designed by Zaha Hadid. Speaking of Hadid, noticeable by its absence is the Aquatics Centre, which wasn’t entered; writing in the Observer, Rowan Moore speculates that it may be submitted next year, once the ungainly spectator ‘wings’ have been removed.
New Court, designed by OMA, is perhaps less well known. At a time when the Square Mile is welcoming plenty of conspicuous new projects, the building is less grandiose and respectful of its surroundings — the architects were keen to stress their sympathy for Wren’s nearby St Stephen Walbrook by including a podium that neatly frames the church. Yet, as Moore again notes, given current hostilities toward bankers, “it would take some nerve by the Stirling judges to give this first prize”.
According to the bookies, the current favourite is the gallery Hepworth Wakefield. The winner will be announced in October.
Previous London winners of the prize include Lord’s Media Centre (1999); Peckham Library (2000); Laban Dance Centre (2003); 30 St Mary Axe, aka the Gherkin (2004); and the Maggie’s Centre at Charing Cross Hospital (2009) and Evelyn Grace Academy (2011).
Photo / Emily S Bishop