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Stirling judges found plenty to commend

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LETTERS

Thank you for giving Magna an opportunity to respond to Tony Worthington's posting on the AJ Discussion Forum.

My understanding is that Magna won the Stirling Prize for the successful integration of architecture and exhibition design, and in particular the coherent interface between old and new structures, interactive science, artworks, heritage interpretation, dramatic lighting and spectacular shows.

The judges acknowledged that this integration was key to the award to Wilkinson Eyre Architects, and they recognised the contribution of 'an enlightened client'. Personally, I would also give credit to the exhibition designer, Event Communications, which also helped to make this integration as seamless as possible.

Clearly, Tony Worthington did not like Magna and had a bad visitor experience, which is regrettable. In total, we have welcomed 360,000 visitors in a little over seven months, which far exceeds our original annual visitor target.

To some extent, Magna has been a victim of its own success, and on busy days it can be difficult for the technical team to keep all 200 interactives fully working - but the exhibit uptime of all the key exhibits is consistently at or near 100%. All the exhibits have been developed with educationalists, and they do have clear educational objectives.

Quite why he finds 'The Big Melt' an 'embarrassing son et lumiere' is unclear, as our market research shows most visitors find the show both spectacular and illuminating.Mr Worthington dismisses Magna because it only provided four hours' entertainment - but four hours for £6.99 (adult day visit) or £20 (family day visit for five) seems an exceptionally good deal to me - and to most of our visitors.

Tim Caulton, development director, Magna Science Adventure Centre, received on the AJ discussion forum Visit www. ajplus. co. uk to read responses to these letters or to add to the debate.

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