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AJ/Curtins Inspiring Graduate Prize: What the judges said

AJ/Curtins Inspiring Graduate Prize
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In its inaugural year, the prize has been awarded to Vanessa Lee, a Part 2 graduate at BuckleyGrayYeoman, who impressed the jury with her combination of teamwork and creative thinking

The AJ/Curtins Inspiring Graduate Prize, awarded to a Part 1 or Part 2 graduate demonstrating sharp business acumen along with great design skills, attracted a high number of entries. In the end, just seven were invited to present live to a jury of high-profile architects.

Competition for the award was fierce and all the shortlisted candidates made excellent cases as to why they should win the £1,000 bursary. But, after an afternoon of deliberation, the jury was unanimous in picking Vanessa Lee, a Part 2 graduate at BuckleyGrayYeoman, as the winner.

The judges felt that Lee demonstrated a wide cross-section of skills, from improving CAD standards across the office to using her research to open up new work streams. A key element of this broad-minded approach was Lee’s work with a community in India. ‘She tied this work into research, showing how she then used that experience to help her practice get new work,’ said one judge.

The judges also praised Lee’s ability to lead and work within teams, citing her work with The Office Group’s refurbishment of Henry Wood House in central London as an example of this. ‘She interrogated what the client wanted and the brief she helped develop is the new standard for the client,’ said the judges.

Vanessa Lee, a Part 2 graduate at BuckleyGrayYeoman

Vanessa Lee, a Part 2 graduate at BuckleyGrayYeoman

The shortlist

  • Darren Wilson, Architecture PLB
  • Niralee Casson, Assael
  • Vanessa Lee, BuckleyGrayYeoman
  • William Hei, BuckleyGrayYeoman
  • Guy Adams, Darling Associates
  • Yiannis Proestos, John Robertson Architects
  • Robert Jones, K2 Architects



The judges

  • Denise Bennetts, co-founder, Bennetts Associates
  • Teresa Borsuk, senior equity partner, Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects
  • John Caine, Curtins
  • Michál Cohen, co-founder, Walters & Cohen
  • Roger Hawkins, co-founder, Hawkins\Brown




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