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Client behind BCIA top prize winner warns 'quality is at risk'

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Kieran McDaid, director of capital investment at University College London Hospitals, celebrates the Macmillan Cancer Centre’s win at the BCIAs

How does it feel to be behind the winner of the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award? We are enormously proud to have commissioned the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre by Hopkins Architects. There is an enormous sense of fulfilment and recognition in receiving this accolade, which is shared by UCH and all of the team involved.

What is special about the centre? It is a quiet revolution; in its creation, the rule book for providing cancer care was torn up in favour of designing a space that humanises and responds to the needs of the patients at every stage of their care. 

What do you think of Stanton Williams’ Stirling Prize win? I am delighted for our academic peers at the University of Cambridge for their Stanton Williams Stirling Prize win. To witness two world class academic health science centres win these major accolades in the same year represents a paradigm shift from the more traditional arts and cultural award arena to a space where functional form and daily activities can take priority.

 Is it worth paying more for quality architectural services? Quality is something that cannot be measured in pure capital costs alone; it is a process of engagement with the right people at the right time to add real value to a product throughout its designated life cycle. 

Are well-designed public buildings a thing of the past? In the current economic climate there is a real and significant danger that high quality public buildings are under threat, particularly in schools building. We need to work together as an industry, clients, consultants and contractors to preserve the integrity of investing in public building for the long term, rather than compromising on quality by cutting costs in the short term.

What do you look for when selecting an architect? When selecting an architect, we would always look for evidence that they can understand our health processes from within. We design a building from the centre out, putting the needs of our staff and patients first. 

Will you build more projects of this calibre in the near future? We have recently been confirmed with The Christie in Manchester to develop the UK’s first national proton beam therapy unit. This is a significant building project by Scott Tallon Walker, Edward Williams Architects and Tsoi Kobus & Associates. It will sit within the main UCH campus and will form the cornerstone of the next stage of the Foundation Trust’s strategic development.


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