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AJ exclusive: Hall McKnight wins King’s College job

Northern Ireland practice emerges from diverse shortlist of contenders to land design commission for £20 million remodelling of London campus

Belfast-based Hall McKnight has seen off an eclectic shortlist including Zaha Hadid to win the RIBA competition to design a £20 million overhaul of
King’s College London’s campus.

The firm also beat Eric Parry Architects, Henley Halebrown Rorrison and two Spanish contenders - Barcelona-based Carme Pinos Studio with Soto-Lay Architects and the emerging Barozzi Veiga Studio.

The project will revamp the university’s Strand Quadrangle, transforming its undercroft into a 3,700m² study area and creating a ‘bridge’ between the university’s Robert Smirke-designed King’s Building and William Chambers’ Somerset House East Wing.

RIBA adviser to the competition, Niall McLaughlin said:  ‘This competition contained a strong and diverse international field. The quality of the submissions was very high. It was a pleasure to witness each of the presentations.

‘Hall McKnight showed an ability to move from a detailed historical investigation to a very confident design synthesis. This shows great promise and maturity. I am confident that they can work well with King’s to develop a very successful building in this extraordinary setting.’

Ian Caldwell, director of estates and facilities at King’s, said: ‘By uncovering layers of the past, Hall McKnight showed a real engagement with the history of the buildings surrounding the quad. The competition jury panel was impressed with the practice’s passion, intelligence, strategic sense and communicative ability.’

The college drew up an intriguing list of finalists, ranging from international big-hitters to emerging overseas firms.

Speaking as the contenders were announced (AJ 26.06.12), RIBA adviser Niall McLaughlin said: ‘The client was keen to explore a diverse range of approaches to
the commission and chose a list of practices which ensured an interesting variety of responses.’

Plans are due to be submitted in spring 2013, with a scheduled opening in time for the 2014-15 academic year.

Read Stephen Best’s review of Hackett Hall McKnight’s ‘powerful and decidedly individual’ Metropolitan Arts Centre in Belfast here (AJ 10.05.2012).

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Readers' comments (3)

  • chris Dyson

    A beautiful and imaginative scheme by Hall McKnight respectful of context and imaginatively modern. A breath of fresh air good to see them win! I wish them the best of luck delivering the scheme.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Wonderful news for a wonderful practice

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • You can have a more detailed look at Hall McKnights proposals at;

    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/aboutkings/orgstructure/ps/estates/services/projects/quad/pdfs/ConceptC(pdf67MB).pdf

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