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Doolan Prize 2009: finalists named in battle for Scotland’s best building


[IMAGES + COMMENT] The AJ can exclusively reveal the 11-strong shortlist vying for the largest cash prize contest in UK architecture - this year’s RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award

Boasting a £25,000 jackpot - bigger than the Stirling Prize - the 2009 Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award is within reach of one of these finalists.

Organised by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), the contest is in its eighth year and past winners include the controversial Scottish Parliament by EMBT/RMJM.

Last year the RIAS raised eyebrows by splitting the prize between Bennetts Associates’ Potterrow development at Edinburgh University and the revamp of the Castlemilk House Stables Block in Glasgow by Elder & Cannon Architects.

This year, seven of the buildings competing for the first prize are in Glasgow.

RIAS president and prize judge David Dunbar said: “Shortlisting 11 [entries] was no easy task. Scotland is enjoying a creative renaissance and that is undoubtedly true of its architecture.”

Hailed as an “award for architects by architects”, the winner will be announced at a Scottish Parliament reception on 20 November.

The jury is to be chaired Andrew MacMillan and also includes architects Kathryn Findlay and Ian Ritchie as well as Ian Gilzean Chief Architect at the Scottish Executive’s Architecture Policy Unit.

The shortlisted entries are:

1. Hotel Missoni, Edinburgh; Allan Murray Architects

2. Small Animal Hospital, Glasgow; Archial Architects

3. The Printworks, Glasgow; Cameron Webster Architects

4. Trongate 103, Glasgow; Elder and Cannon Architects

5. Boathouse at Balnearn, Loch Tay; McKenzie Strickland Associates

6. Infirmary Street Baths, Edinburgh; Malcolm Fraser Architects

7. Social housing at Moore Street, Glasgow; Richard Murphy Architects, Elder and Cannon Architects, Page \ Park Architects, JM Architects;

8. New Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow; Reiach and Hall Architects

9. Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Glasgow; Reiach and Hall Architects

10. North Glasgow College, Glasgow; RMJM Scotland

11. Niddrie Mill and St Francis Primary Schools joint campus, Edinburgh; Elder and Cannon Architects



Rory Olcayto

For a second year, 11 projects have been shortlisted for Scotland’s best building award. Last year, two projects shared the prize. The message from RIAS is clear: Scottish architecture is in rude health.

But there’s another reason. Just five of 88 Stirling shortlisted projects have been in Scotland and beyond the AJ – which has published five of this year’s RIAS shortlist (see below) – you’ll struggle to find the nation’s buildings discussed. The inference is that the RIBA has a Scottish blind-spot.

Yet RIAS secretary Neil Baxter says Scottish architecture has reached a high point no other post-war era can match. I’m not so sure. It is ten years since devolution and the world’s first national architectural policy. However, the mode of expression emerging from within Scottish culture is still too narrow, as this shortlist attests.

Yes, Reiach and Hall’s New Stobhill Hospital and Beatson Institute are Stirling contenders. At the very least, they confirm Neil Gillespie’s place among the UK’s most talented studio leaders.

One of this year’s jury said the list compares with the ‘best in Europe’. That’s pushing it. International recognition will surely come, but only when Scotland’s best firms abandon thoughtful modernism.

There have been signs in recent years. RMJM’s Falkirk Wheel, GM+AD Architects’ workshops in Clydebank and NORD’s Bell-Simpson House in the suburbs beyond Glasgow are risky, strange, uncanny buildings. I wish I could say the same about this year’s shortlist.

AJ building study issues:

Building 1: 13.08.09
Building 7: 27.11.08
Building 8: 25.06.09
Building 9: 17.07.08
Building 11: 12.03.09


Readers' comments (10)

  • All very worthy. Perhaps 'worthy' is the new 'iconic'

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  • The Missoni hotel looks good. It will look better with less tricks on the side wall and a more consistant language. I found the intriguing deails on every single wall somehow comprimise its power, or essense.

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  • It just shows how small a field there is to select anything from. Some of these are seriously bad.

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  • Apparently there are only half a dozen architects in Scotland? Same old names, wonder what everyone else is doing? Really doesn't give the impression of a vibrant architectural scene, especially to those of us who left for that very reason.

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  • Interesting comment on the Missoni. So it's good, but it's bad?

    And oh yes Soupdragon, it's the usual suspects.

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  • Social housing at Moore Street for me...This little scheme contributes massively to the community - Britains poorest (the Calton) and is another part in the development carried on down from Graham Square. Hopefully this development continues towards the Barrowlands and repairs further the street edge allong Gallowgate. Well done to all the architects involved in making the project.

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  • Someone needs to send Scotland a RAL colour chart. A whole country constructed purely from self coloured materials is going too far.

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  • When I said good, I refered to a few details. Is it bad? It depends on how you interpret my comments.

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  • It is bad. Very bad. But it's Scotland and they have not much idea.

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  • I think Rory sums up this shortlist excellently in his comment. To see Moore Street housing on the shortlist is extremely disappointing, this is one of the worst examples of urban masterplanning I have ever come across. In an area of the city that badly needs to engage with the street this scheme creates a walled and gated community that completely ignores it's context in every aspect. A series of very grim disparate courtyards has been created within the wall that contain little if no meaningful amenity and at the centre of the scheme sits a truly ugly Richard Murphy building. Shocking

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