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McLaughlin scoops £10m showpiece drama school

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Niall McLaughlin Architects is to design a showpiece music and drama school on one of London's most challenging urban sites, surrounded by flyovers, railways and tower blocks in Hammersmith.

The London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art, to be built in the shadow of the Ralph Erskine-designed Ark, could cost more than £10 million. Three phases of work are due to start soon and project will take over five years to complete.

McLaughlin won a competitive interview by LAMDA and project manager Pell Frischmann to land the job, which includes a public theatre. Runners-up were De Rijke Marsh Morgan, Ash Sakula Architects, Imagination and Pentagram Design.

The shortlist also included dsdha, Noble Associates, Marsh & Grochowski and the Westwood Partnership.

'We were grilled on the relationship between the building and the city, ' said McLaughlin. 'The site is unusual in that it is where the 19th-century streetscape breaks down into tower blocks, railway lines, a petrol station and six lanes of traffic. We need an urban strategy on how the area works and how it becomes a public space.'

Stage one is to refurbish a Victorian building with a 1960s extension that was once owned by the Royal Ballet School. This will involve a small public theatre and cost around £1 million. The second phase will be a new building worth around £4 million for music studios, drama and teaching spaces.

Phase three will see a bigger theatre, though its size has not been finalised.

McLaughlin said the first phase of work did not need planning consent and an application for stage two was due about 2002. LAMDA is financing the scheme.

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