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Foster snubs RIBA Stirling Prize despite record entries

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Foster and Partners has decided not to put forward any buildings for the RIBA Awards this year, making it the first time in the Stirling Prize's sixyear history that every Foster scheme can be ruled out of the running, right from the outset.

The practice was widely expected to at least have put forward its well-received Great Court project at the British Museum, which was the venue for last October's Stirling Prize grand ceremony, televised on Channel 4. But the £100 million Queen Elizabeth II Great Court project, which could have expected a berth on the awards shortlist, was plagued with bad press over the 'wrong stone' affair.

That was when cheaper and lighter-looking French limestone was used instead of the specified Portland stone from Dorset on the Lottery-funded scheme's South Portico. Camden council was defeated in its attempts to prosecute the museum - with possible fines of £20,000 on the horizon - over the saga in January.

The other main Foster's built project of the year, the Millennium Bridge on the Thames, has latterly won acclaim - but only after the delayed opening and 'wobble' problems attributed to the design team and engineers Arup.

A Foster and Partners spokesperson said: 'We decided not to enter this year, for various reasons.

We've put in lots of buildings in the past but we've decided to have a bit of a rest this year.'

Foster and Partners has had a high profile at the RIBA awards in recent years, having clinched the third ever Stirling Prize in 1998 with its Duxford Air Museum project, and winning RIBA awards regularly for projects such as the £17 million Valencia Congress Centre; Great Glasshouse in Camarthenshire; Faculty of Management at Robert Gordon University; and the £32.5 million Canary Wharf Underground Station, which was the joint favourite for the £20,000 top prize in 2000 when Will Alsop's Peckham library triumphed.

The practice reports that it is busy, however, having had to turn down a number of major projects, including the chance to appear on a shortlist of big-names involved in a masterplan for Amman in Jordan. The list, to be announced soon, is understood to include Rem Koolhaas' OMA, Alsop Architects, Allies and Morrison and Gensler.

The RIBA's deadline for awards submissions passed on 15 March, but the institute has received record numbers of entries, despite Foster's absence. Winners will be announced this year at an awards dinner during Interbuild on 11 June.

The ultimate shortlist could include Richard Rogers Partnership's Lloyd's Register of Shipping;

Hudson Featherstone's Drop House; Sarah Wigglesworth's straw bale house; and the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead by Wilkinson Eyre, which won last year's Stirling Prize with Magna in Rotherham.

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