Leading lights of British architecture tell the AJ which buildings and memories stand out for them
Rab Bennetts, founder, Bennetts Associates
I’ll remember not being able to take my eyes off the TV this autumn, as global financial collapse and the nationalisation of our banks reversed all economic certainties.
It was mesmerising and, like the recession of the early 1990s, seems certain to determine our architectural activities for years to come.
Judith Lg, director, East
I’ll remember 2008 as the year Boris Johnson was elected as Mayor of London, and the shift in social, spatial and transport policies this will bring about.
A focus on London’s edges and suburbs will open up new opportunities, but a tunnel under Park Lane and putting spending on parks in deprived areas up for public vote seem at odds with what we need to enjoy living in a complex city.
Soraya Khan, co-founder, Theis and Khan Architects
I’ll remember 2008 as the year of the fiery spectaculars: the Beijing Olympics embodied by Herzog & de Meuron’s magical Bird’s Nest stadium, and the corporate financial meltdown, hopefully making way for a new sensibility of economy and craftsmanship in design.
As for my favourite building, if the term can be stretched to include bridges, then the new Shoreditch Rail Bridge symbolises the ambition of East London regeneration – an understated, beautiful example of British engineering.
Tim Evans, creative director, Sheppard Robson
I’ll remember the election of Barack Obama as president of the USA, not just for the historical significance of such an event, but for his promise to invest in renewables and to create five million new green-collar jobs, finally placing environmental sustainability and climate change at the top of the US agenda.
I really liked the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale – not a building as such, but architecturally inspired and much better than the dreary exhibition at the British Pavilion.
Jim Eyre, founder, Wilkinson Eyre Architects
I’ll remember 2008 as the year in which, toxic debt and dodgy derivatives debacle aside, Wilkinson Eyre completed the Arena and Convention Centre on the famous Liverpool waterfront.
Peter Buchan, chief executive, Ryder Architecture
This was the year Liverpool came great again. I honestly thought it wouldn’t make it, but just in the nick of time it pulled the rabbit out of the hat.
The city revealed a quantum change in the quality of its buildings and a fantastic piece of placemaking with Liverpool ONE by developer Grosvenor. Having just opened an office there, I have watched Liverpool’s transformation with trepidation and wonder.
Glenn Howells, founder, Glenn Howells Architects
I’ll remember 2008 as the year that ended the 20-year belief that buildings are primarily a short-term financial investment. I’ll also remember Dixon Jones’ Kings Place in London, mainly because of the generosity of the idea – an office building with almost unlimited public access at the ground and lower levels.
David Bickle, director, Hawkins\Brown
I’ll remember working with artist Bob and Roberta Smith on Faites L’Art, pas La Guerre, the proposal for this year’s Fourth Plinth commission in Trafalgar Square, and the Hotel Aire de Bardenas, a settlement of single-storey prefabricated buildings in the Ribera, Spain.
Tony Fretton, founder, Tony Fretton Architects
I’ll remember this year for Álvaro Siza’s RIBA Gold Medal win, and for David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum in Berlin, which I saw under construction.
Alan Dunlop, founder, Gordon Murray + Alan Dunlop Architects
I’ll remember the speed at which the construction industry crashed, the American election, parametricism and other bollocks at the Venice Biennale, and the way UNESCO World Heritage bullied Edinburgh and Bath by threatening to remove their accreditation.
My favourite building was not a building, but John Pawson’s Sackler Crossing at Kew Gardens, which I thought was beautifully considered, inventive and elegant.
Stuart Piercy, partner, Piercy Conner Architects
I’ll remember extreme optimism slowly declining into melancholy, panic and despair. I say snap out of it – dust off your passport and head to Europe! I remember working in Grimshaw’s London studio and being the only UK architect on the team.
My favourite building of 2008 is the Tama Art University Library in Tokyo by Toyo Ito. The building is so uplifting and light; beautifully delicate but quite brutal in finish and material. I also got married this year, to Liz, my amazingly tolerant girlfriend.
Sunand Prasad, president, RIBA
As we enter 2009, we do not have a handle either on the old money economy or the new carbon economy. Architects are right in the middle of this daunting but exhilarating place, and need to rethink their ways of working. No individual building easily stands out for me, but Grafton Architects’ Universita Luigi Bocconi in Milan is a brilliant achievement.
Gareth Hoskins, founder, Hoskins Architects
I’ll remember working with The Lighthouse to take the new Scottish Pavilion, the ‘Gathering Place’, to the Venice Biennale – not simply for the buzz of making it happen, but for the confidence and ambition it demonstrated in terms of the quality of the architecture being produced within Scotland and its growing presence on the international stage.
As for a favourite building, Sna’s Oslo Opera House. Its intent and built form are incredibly bold.
Anna Liu, director, Tonkin Liu
I’ll remember 2008 for the credit munch – I hope that it makes us chew purposefully and act urgently. To paraphrase Franklyn D Roosevelt, bad social ethics equal bad economics.
I wish more than anything else for dialogues between people who currently fear and hate each other; for the beginning of a humane era with a more innocent belief in communities.
Garry Palmer, director of advanced design at engineers Faber Maunsell AECOM
2008 saw another increase in international opportunities, particularly in the Middle East, with British architects and engineers continuing to export their skills around the world in all building sectors.
At the same time, sustainable design gained in importance both in the UK and overseas ..and hopefully, with a change in administration in the US, there should be enormous investment in clean technologies, aggressive targets for greenhouse emissions and programs to promote energy efficiency in buildings.
[Meanwhile in the UK] Atkins’ University of Northumbria City East Campus and Denton Corker Marshall’s Manchester Civil Justice Centre both stood out for me this year - though very different in terms of function, form and setting both combine a spirit of adventure and some interesting engineering.