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editorial

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It's hard to get excited about this year's Gold Medallist but, then again, it's pretty much impossible to snipe.

Moneo can only be described as an appropriate choice.

He is a spokesperson for the profession, without any of the bad-boy rebelliousness of Nouvel, a committed educationalist without the smart-alec contrariness of, say, Venturi (who almost pipped Moneo to the post for this year's medal), and a prominent international architect with none of the look-at-me vulgarity of Gehry.

Moneo is the quintessential European architect. That he happens to be Spanish is neither here nor there. His oeuvre is a mature manifestation of European Modernism - less rigorous and dictatorial than its more evangelical predecessors, more responsive to the peculiarities of context, whether physical, cultural or historic. The National Museum of Roman Art in Mérida, Spain, where Moneo's arched structure is inspired by, and woven into, the ancient ruins on the site, is one celebrated example of his approach.

Well-mannered in the extreme, Moneo buildings respect their neighbours, give pleasure to their public and - leaving aside the odd rumour about rain seeping into the museums of Modern Art and Architecture in Stockholm - behave exactly as they should. They have, in short, set the standard for quality of construction, fitness for purpose and educated good taste. He may not have the popular cult following of more obviously radical architects, but he is in many ways an architect's architect, a design guru for practices which strive for longevity, serenity and a certain restraint.

Is this enough to render him worthy of the RIBA's highest honour? The answer is certainly yes. It is only against a backdrop of 'sensible'recipients that the more quirky choices - Archigram, the City of Barcelona - have any weight at all. Their selection was significant precisely because it recognised that their contribution to architecture was on a par with the most prolific and respected of our international practitioners.Without choices such as these, the Gold Medal would be arbitrary trend-spotting, the selection process little more than an after-dinner game for the architectural elite.

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