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AJ backs emerging practices with £5k first building prize

The AJ has launched a new cash award for architects' first buildings, which will take its place alongside the RIBA's main Stirling Prize winner later this year.

The £5,000 Architects' Journal First Building Award, which is being organised by the institute and developed in association with Robin Ellis Design Build, is for a first stand-alone new-build building in the European Union by a British practice. Like those others to be judged for the main RIBA awards, first buildings must have been completed in the period between January 1998 and 30 March 2001, but there is no size or construction cost limit for the buildings concerned.

The move to honour what are likely to be smaller projects from emerging practices comes in tandem with the RIBA's decision to cut the £500,000 ceiling for entries to the Stephen Lawrence Prize to £200,000. AJ Small Projects Award winners - schemes costing under £150,000 (AJ 11.1.01 and 18.1.01) - will be encouraged to seek consideration for the prize.

'Smaller-scale buildings can be just as architecturally innovative as their larger counterparts, ' said RIBA head of awards Tony Chapman. '2001 looks set to be another exciting year for architecture.'

The Stirling Prize ceremony, which will again be televised by Channel 4, will take place on 20 October this year and the institute is investigating some interesting potential venues. Chapman said it is considering Herzog & de Meuron's Tate Modern, the Foster and Partners-designed Great Court of the British Museum, Michael Wilford's Lowry and the Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners-designed National Space Science Centre in Leicester.

The RIBA awards from which the Stirling winner is chosen will be announced in Architecture Week, which runs this year from 22 June to 1 July.

It will be a busy period for the institute, which has chosen that week to announce the recipient of the Royal Gold Medal. Around 35,000 forms are being sent out for entries - the deadline for their return is 30 March. For more information on the awards please e-mail Tony Chapman at tony. chapman @inst. riba. org. For an entry form contact Nancy Mills on tel 0121 233 2531, fax 0121 212 3547 or at e-mail nancy. mills@member. riba. org.

Another addition to the RIBA awards line-up is the £5,000 ADAPT Trust Access Award. This will honour excellence in the provision of access to arts and heritage buildings and is intended to demonstrate that good design must include good access facilities for people of all abilities.

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