Joint awards for the 'people's art'
The Royal Fine Art Commission and BSkyB gave a nod to both tradition and modernity in the building of the year award for 1998, by announcing surprise joint winners. Sidell Gibson and Donald Insall's Octagonal Lantern Lobby at Windsor Castle shared the honours with Foster and Partners' American Air Museum in Duxford.
rfac chairman Lord St John of Fawsley said the awards were designed to open the public's eyes to 'the people's art' and a film of the judging process - including Lord St John singing in a Cockney brogue at fellow commissioner Ian Ritchie's arts winner, Crystal Palace Concert Platform in Bromley - will be screened by Sky towards that end. Former commissioner Richard MacCormac's practice MacCormac Jamieson Prichard won the 'universities' category award for the Ruskin Library at the University of Lancaster, and czwg won the 'small buildings' trophy for its Bar Rouge cafe at Brindleyplace, Birmingham. A special award in memory of former Sky employee Popli Khalat- Bari went to Feilden Clegg's Olivier Theatre at Bedales School in Petersfield, Hampshire.
Shortlisted entries were Edward Cullinan Architects' Archaeolink visitor centre in Aberdeenshire, Chris Wilkinson Architects' South Quay footbridge in Docklands, Allies and Morrison Architects' Abbey Mills Pumping Station 'F' in Stratford, East London, and Lawrence and Wrightson's Spitalfields housing development. Judges of the awards included Graham Morrison of Allies and Morrison, BSkyB's Richard Dunn, broadcaster Janet Street-Porter, and rfac commissioners Edmund Hollinghurst, Sophie Andrae and Lord St John.
Sir Philip Dowson, who Lord St John commended for serving for 27 years as a commissioner, made a speech at the awards ceremony at the Savoy in London to an audience including minister without portfolio Peter Mandelson ('he makes up for it by running everyone else's,' said Lord St John), mayoral hopeful Tony Banks, Lord Macintosh of Haringey, and arts minister Mark Fisher. Dowson said that British architects have 'a wonderful international reputation but are not widely recognised in this country' and urged that Libeskind's v&a extension be built as 'a new blood transfusion' - like the Guggenheim in Bilbao.