This year’s RIBA Stirling Prize winner will be picked from one of the strongest shortlists ever. We asked our critics to visit the six buildings and tell us what these buildings feel like, writes Will Hurst
Winning the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2014 will taste extra sweet. Why? Because this year the shortlist is very strong. This was the point made last week by Sunday Times architecture critic Hugh Pearman while he was introducing a talk at 66 Portland Place by architects closely involved in the six buildings. Think about the schemes that didn’t make it, Pearman told the audience. Couldn’t six of those runners-up make a respectable shortlist any other year?
Given that the ‘B list’ includes John McAslan’s King’s Cross station makeover; Hopkins’ Brent Civic Centre, Caruso St John’s Tate Britain revamp and Duggan Morris Architects’ Ortus mental healthcare facility, he has a point. This year’s shortlist is also groaning with heavyweights. Zaha Hadid has already won twice of course, Feilden Clegg Bradley once and Haworth Tompkins and O’Donnell + Tuomey have both been previously nominated (in the latter’s case an agonising four times). And, given that the remaining two are Mecanoo and Renzo Piano Building Workshop … well, you get the picture.
These six buildings have been so comprehensively reviewed in the past we thought we’d take a different tack in the following pages. Our six critics (including AJ acting editor Rory Olcayto) were asked to visit, or revisit, the buildings and contemplate what they mean to their users or, indeed, passers-by. We hope you find the results suitably experiential. We’ve also included a look at the RIBA Stirling Prize’s sustainability credentials by AJ’s sustainability editor Hattie Hartman, and an analysis of the six shortlisted schemes by carbon-profiling expert Simon Sturgis. The LSE’s Saw Swee Hock building is the bookies’ favourite to win and also puts in a mightily impressive green performance. Could this be enough to make it fifth time lucky for O’Donnell + Tuomey? With a shortlist as good as this, all bets are off.