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RIBA knocked back over its bid to run Mies competition

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The RIBA has failed in an audacious bid to wrestle a European architecture award from the competition's own organisers in Barcelona.

The institute applied to take over the Mies van der Rohe award - the European prize for contemporary architecture - when the project backers were forced to advertise the tender for running the competition through the Official Journal. The Mies van der Rohe Foundation had to retender the scheme after applying for more funds from Europe.

But RIBA head of awards Tony Chapman said the institute had been told just days before holding its own £20,000 Stirling Prize ceremony at the Science Museum in London that it had not been successful.

'There was an incumbent and it would have been a remarkable achievement if we'd have pulled it off, 'he said.

'But we spent a lot of time on this and it's clearly in the remit of the RIBA to spread internationally as well.'

The 13-year-old biennial prize - of which the Mies van der Rohe pavilion in Barcelona is a key symbol - is designed to highlight 'artistic' buildings and encourage transnational commissions across Europe. It also strives for 'excellence and authenticity of design'. There is a prize of 50,000 euros (£30,000) and a sculpture for the winner, plus a separate prize for emerging architects. The award was created by the European Commission, European parliament and Mies Foundation and the Architecture Foundation is on its advisory committee.

Previous winners include Foster and Partners in 1990 for Stansted air terminal, Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners in 1994 for Waterloo's Eurostar terminal and most recently Peter Zumthor in 1998 for the Bregenz Art Museum in Austria.

The winners of next year's event will be announced in March 2001.

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