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STIRLING SIX EYE TOP PRIZE

STIRLING PRIZE

Six schemes, ranging from a PFI library in Brighton by Bennetts Associates to the highly contentious Scottish Parliament by RMJM and Enric Miralles, have made it onto the Stirling Shortlist 2005.

The list, which is revealed for the first time this week by the AJ, also features the BMW Central Building in Leipzig - Zaha Hadid's first Stirlingshortlisted scheme - and the McLaren Technology Centre, by Foster and Partners.

The remaining schemes chasing the biggest prize in British architecture - to be announced in Edinburgh on 15 October - are O'Donnell + Tuomey's Lewis Glucksman Gallery in Cork and Alsop Design's Fawood Children's Centre.

Perhaps the rank outsider for the award will be the Brighton Library, the first PFI scheme to make it this far in the competition since Michael Wilford's British Embassy in Berlin in 2001.

Also unlikely to be a favourite with the bookies is Alsop's Fawood Children's Centre in north-west London which, although considered successful, has probably not made the impact of most previous winners.

The two favourites in this year's batch are Zaha's almost universally praised BMW scheme and the infinitely more controversial Scottish Parliament.

There can be no denying that the enormous project has attracted almost as many bad reviews as good since it finally opened at the end of last year but cynics will point to the fact that the Stirling awards evening is being held in the Scottish capital.

This leaves O'Donnell + Tuomey's Cork gallery and the McLaren centre by Foster. Both would certainly be accepted as winners, with the Irish scheme celebrated for its classy design and Foster's building playing to the office specialists.

One of the most discussed aspects of the Stirling shortlist is the omissions. This year is unlikely to be an exception, with Foster's Millau Viaduct failing to make the list. Why it has been omitted is not clear but the extent of the contribution to the design process by engineer Michel Virlogeux could well be the answer.

Only one thing is certain and that is that nothing is certain. It will all come down to the judging panel - made up of AJ editor Isabel Allen, environmental engineer Max Fordham, architect Piers Gough, RIBA president Jack Pringle and journalist Joan Bakewell - when they decide on the night.

THE SHORTLIST Brighton Library Bennetts Associates McLaren Technology Centre Foster and Partners BMW Central Building Zaha Hadid Architects Lewis Glucksman Gallery O'Donnell + Tuomey Fawood Children's Centre Alsop Design Scottish Parliament RMJM and EMBT THE BEST OF THE REST The following schemes made it to the Stirling Prize longlist:

Norwich Cathedral Refectory Hopkins Architects Abode, Newhall, Parcel 1B Proctor and Matthews Millau Viaduct Foster and Partners, with engineer Michel Virlogeux The Sage Foster and Partners Mossbourne Community Academy Richard Rogers Partnership House at Clonaikilty Niall McLaughlin Architects The Orangery Spacelabuk

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