Six projects were shortlisted alongside Magna for the Stirling Prize, some by the best-established names in British architecture, others by new practices. They set the judges a challenging task, since in no way could they be considered to be judging like with like. And with a geographical spread from Bodelva to Berlin, and clients ranging from the government to a private householder, they showed that excellent architecture can be achieved in a wide range of circumstances. The only prerequisites are an enlightened client, a talented architect - and a streak of serendipity.
The Eden Project, Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall - Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners This was the building expected to win by the bookies, the AJ readership and doubtless by the architect as well. The Lottery-assisted £57 million scheme has been a runaway success, having to cope with the problems of an excess of visitors. It is an engineering marvel with its eight ETFEclad biomes.There was some consolation for the project team, however, when the building won the major projects category in the British Construction Industry Awards.
(AJ Building Study 22.2.01)
National Portrait Gallery Extension, London - Jeremy Dixon.Edward Jones This project, to sort out the circulation of a major London gallery, is much more than the sum of its parts: a soaring escalator, a restaurant with one of the most surprising views in London, and the lush presentation of the Tudor galleries turn a building with a bit of an identity crisis into somewhere enticing and intriguing.
The downside is that there is no evidence of the reworking from the outside.Total cost was £13.2 million. (AJ Building Study 4.5.01)
Portcullis House and Westminster Station, London - Michael Hopkins and Partners One of the most admired stations on the Jubilee Underground line and one of the most vilified buildings in the country were submitted as a joint entry - reasonably so since they share a footprint.While the station was an immediate hit with people who enjoy being dwarfed in a soaring space, Portcullis House was the ugly duckling that is slowly being accepted for its place on the London skyline and the high quality, matched by contentious cost, of its accommodation.
Total cost was £255 million. (AJ Building Study 3.2.00)
The Surgery, Hammersmith Bridge Road, London - Guy Greenfield Architects An instant landmark on Hammersmith's somewhat soulless giant roundabout, this builidng was remarkable for a number of reasons: a doctors' surgery should become such a forceful architectural statement and that it was the practice's very first building.
The glistening white render and the organic form make it immediately memorable.
However, judges criticised the detailing, and the space behind the building. Total cost £1.2 million.
The Lawns, 16 South Grove, London N6 - Eldridge Smerin This is another first building by a practice which has reworked a 1950s house by Leonard Manasseh for identity consultants Frances Newell and John Sorrell.The architect has demonstrated that the large and expensive house does not need to be vulgar. It has been admired by all who have seen it but at £1.1 million for a refurbishment, albeit a remarkably thorough one, this project has few lessons for the nitty gritty of quotidian architecture.
British Embassy, Berlin, Germany - Michael Wilford & Partners Wilford is a previous winner, with another building in Germany, the Stuttgart music school next door to the Staatsgalerie designed with late partner, James Stirling of the eponymous prize.
Remarkably, the widely admired building was the product of the PFI process. It uses Wilford's trademark playschool palette but is also considered an intelligent response to a demanding brief and a difficult site.