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The Future is here - Media Centre wins Stirling Prize

Future Systems'NatWest Media Centre was last week confirmed as the £20,000 winner ofthe Stirling Prize - as first predicted by the AJ a fortnight ago - at a ceremony addressed by Scotland's architecture minister Rhona Brankin.

Brankin stepped in at the last minute to replace Lord Steel,who,although he accepted the RIBA 's invitation to be at the event five and a halfmonths ago,waited until only last Tuesday before pulling out.He said he felt he 'did not know enough about architecture'to make the announcement,yet he is dealing personally with Enric Miralles on the new Scottish Parliament.

The award was a close-run thing,with the judges only just opting - three to two - for Future Systems rather than the official runner-up,the Museum ofScotland by Benson and Forsyth ( AJ 18.11.99).The unofficial third place went to Wilkinson Eyre's Stratford regional station.

But Lord's triumphed,and also made it a double whammy on the night by clinching the £5,000 client ofthe year award in honour ofa series ofhigh-quality buildings at the ground from key architects such as Michael Hopkins and Partners, Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners,and David Morley Architects.Judges felt that the Marylebone Cricket Club had transformed the venue and now had a new 'jewel in the crown'and 'an instant icon' in the Media Centre.Built offsite by boatbuilders, it also avoided being 'just another charm on the Lord's bracelet'.The money will go on a newly commissioned work ofart.It was not without problems,however.The £5 million building had an original budget of£3.5 million and this rise in cost led to the resignation offormer chairman ofthe MCC 's estates committee,Brian Thornton.

Munkenbeck and Marshall also left Glasgow ith a £5,000 cheque.The practice was awarded the Stephen Lawrence Prize for its Sculpture Gallery at Roche Court in Wiltshire.

And Foster and Partners also made it onto the list ofwinners as 'The People's Choice'for the Reichstag project in Berlin.Visitors to the RIBA awards website voted it the popular winner.

RIBA president Marco Goldschmied said ofthe Stirling Prize winner:'This is the building Future Systems has been threatening to do for years and the reality is even better than the models and plans.The Media Centre wins the 1999 Stirling Prize because it demonstrates the ability ofstrong architectural imagery to communicate an organisation's message to the world and simultaneously proves that imagination is the crucial starting point for all great architecture.'

Rhona Brankin said that Benson and Forsyth's Museum ofScotland was 'a wonderful building ofwhich Scotland should be justifiably proud'.

Judges were Goldschmied,Rick Mather, RIBA Journaleditor Amanda Baillieu and designer Stella McCartney.Next year the event will be held in London - when buildings such as the Milennium Dome,Tate Modern,British Museum and British Airways'London Eye wil be eligible.

Architecture 99has been published by Ellipsis and features all 59 award winners in its distinctive square format.It costs £6.

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