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Doubts hang over LSE's £90m Aldwych contest

The London School of Economics’ (LSE) £90million competition for a new building on its Aldwych campus has stalled after the jury failed to pick a winner

OMA, Rogers, Hopkins, Grafton and Heneghan Peng are all vying for the prestigious contract to design the school’s new central London Global Centre for Social Sciences (GCSS).

A decision on the high-profile design team was expected this week but the architects on the star-studded shortlist have been left hanging after the jury, which includes LSE director Craig Calhoun and Ricky Burdett, failed to reach a decision.

A senior source in the LSE said: ‘It was possibly over-optimistic that the jury panel could reach a decision after one or two meetings.

‘There is always optimism that it will be an easy decision but surely it is better thing to take the right amount of time. We hope to make a decision in the near future but there is no deadline at the moment.’

The source added that there ‘was no indication’ that the shortlist would be changed or a new competition launched.

The news is a setback for the school which has committed to one of the most impressive building programmes in the City. As well as the stalled £90million GCSS building, O’Donnell & Tuomey is nearing completion of its student centre, also on the Aldwych site, and last week the LSE announced a new competition for another building it owns on Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

Comment from the LSE’s director of estates Julian Robinson:

Deliberations about choosing the winning submission are on-going. Each of the schemes has interesting ideas but there is some further work to do by the practices and the School. It may be to do with the design brief constraints and sheer scale of what we are attempting. It was an exceptionally challenging brief as it is right in the middle of our campus. 

‘LSE has no plans to re-launch the design competition.’

Previous story (AJ 07.10.13)

Finalists’ designs revealed in £90m LSE contest

The AJ can reveal the concept schemes by the five finalists in the contest to design the London School of Economics’ (LSE) new Global Centre for the Social Sciences

The proposals by Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas, Hopkins, Grafton Architects and Heneghan Peng have gone on anonymous exhibition today (7 October) in the LSE’s library.

In August, American star Steven Holl confirmed he had pulled out of the high-profile, RIBA-run competition to design a £90 million building on the university’s Aldwych campus close to O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects’ soon-to-complete student union block.

Julian Robinson, the LSE’s director of estates said: ‘We believe we do design competitions well; mid-term design workshops with each of the teams helped to ensure they understood the brief and didn’t waste time and effort on tangential issues.

‘The LSE does not have easy projects and always sets tough design challenges; as a result the amount of analysis and intellectual effort that has gone into the designs is staggering. The teams have done a remarkable job in the time available.’

This will be the school’s biggest ever building project

He added: ‘This will be the school’s biggest ever building project and will transform the heart of our campus. Given its scale, it will be a landmark building and its legacy will endure for many generations of LSE students, so it is vital that we make the right decision.’

The teams will make their final presentations later this month to a jury panel chaired by professor Craig Calhoun, director of LSE.

A winner will be named in November. The exhibition of the finalists runs until 18 October.  

The exhibition of the five finalists in the LSE's design competition (Social Science)

The exhibition of the five finalists in the LSE’s design competition (Social Science)

Shortlist in full

  • Grafton Architects, Ireland
  • Heneghan Peng, Ireland
  • Steven Holl Architects, USA
  • Hopkins Architects, UK
  • OMA, The Netherlands
  • Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, UK

Previous story (AJ 23.08.2013)

Steven Holl pulls out of £90m LSE competition

Steven Holl has pulled out of the RIBA-run competition to design a new £90 million facility for the London School of Economics (LSE)

In July the AJ reported that Holl was on an all-star shortlist to design the New Global Centre for the Social Sciences that included Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas, Hopkins, Grafton Architects and Heneghan Peng.

However, the American star’s office confirmed today that Holl had pulled out of the high-profile contest.

A spokesperson for the company said: ‘We are unfortunately unable to participate in further stages of the competition. This decision was made after careful review of the schedule of other current projects in our office.’

Back in June, Holl failed to winning planning for a new Maggie’s Centre in Smithfield despite being recommended for approval by planners (see AJ 04.06.2013). The City of London has yet to receive either an appeal or a reworked scheme.

The teams shortlisted to design the new LSE facility have until September to work on their submissions, with final interviews held in October.

Previous story (AJ 25.07.2013)

Revealed: Rogers, Koolhaas and Stirling finalists on LSE shortlist by Richard Waite

Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas and a pair of 2013 Stirling Prize finalists have been named on an impressive shortlist to design a new £90 million faculty for the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE)Rogers, who has just celebrated his 80th birthday, and starchitect Koolhaas’ practice OMA are vying for the new social sciences centre alongside Irish stars Grafton Architects and Heneghan Peng – who are both in the running for this year’s Stirling Prize (see AJ 18.07.2013).

The stellar, six-strong list of high-profile names is completed by American big hitter Steven Holl and Hopkins Architects.

The New Global Centre for the Social Sciences will be the latest addition to the university’s Aldwych campus where O’Donnell + Tuomey Architect’s student union is expected to open later this year.

Julian Robinson, director of estates for the LSE commented: ‘What a shortlist! The next stage in our plan to create a world-class campus has just taken another significant step forward.

What a shortlist!

‘[The contest] attracted a wealth of architectural talent from across the globe. I and my fellow jury panel members, which included our own in-house guru, Ricky Burdett had a difficult job, but surprisingly there was a high degree of unanimity amongst us when the final selections were made.

‘If the New Students’ Centre design competition [by O’Donnell + Tuomey] is anything to go by we are in for a real treat when the proposals from the shortlisted six are presented in October.’

The shortlisted teams have until September to work on their design submissions with final interviews to be held in October 2013. The practices will each receive a £10,000 honorarium.

Previous story (AJ 21.05.2013)

Contest opens to design LSE social sciences centre

RIBA has launched a contest to design a social sciences faculty for the London School of Economics and Political Sciences

The New Global Centre for the Social Sciences will be the latest addition to the university’s Aldwych campus where O’Donnell + Tuomey’s student union is expected to open later this year.

RIBA is looking for practices with ‘exceptional design skills’ for project which will provide flexible space for creative research and social learning.

The two stage competition will be judged by a panel including Andy MacFee of Proctor and Matthews and Olympic procurement advisor Ricky Burdett.

Up to six shortlisted practices will each receive a £10,000 honorarium.

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