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Two outstanding finalists tie for 2016 AJ/Curtins Inspiring Graduate Prize

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Two winners of the 2016 AJ/Curtins Inspiring Graduate Prize were announced at Friday’s AJ100 lunch in Manchester

The joint winners are Charlotte Knight of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Jayne Rosen of Tony Meadows Associates, who will share the £1,000 prize fund.

Curtins executive director Jon Moister announced the winners at the lunch event, which also heard from speaker Stuart Lyell, managing director of developer Allied London.

The AJ/Curtins Inspiring Graduate Prize recognises an entrepreneurial Part 1 or Part 2 graduate who has made a significant impact on an architecture practice’s business or are demonstrating good business sense on an independent project.

The runners-up this year were Albena Atanassova of Scott Brownrigg and Richard Coskie of Hawkins\Brown.

AJ managing editor Will Hurst – one of the judges alongside Moister – told the lunch that the high standards demonstrated by all four candidates had made the job of the judging panel ‘very difficult indeed’ this year.

He said: ‘After much deliberation we found ourselves split in our preferences for a winner. In the end we decided it was only fair to split the prize and award it to two winners.’

The judges said Knight stood out for ‘outstanding all-round initiative and for self-generated projects which have enabled her practice to enhance its brand and business and reconnect with its roots’.

Of Rosen, they said she had ‘developed specialist knowledge in a niche sector, winning the trust of senior colleagues and key clients and opening up new strands of commercial work for her practice’.

Also on the judging panel were AJ executive editor Emily Booth, former RIBA president Stephen Hodder of Hodder + Partners, Jonathan Falkingham, founder and creative director of Urban Splash, and Levitt Bernstein associate director Victoria Turner.

Lyell, whose firm is behind the planned OMA-designed Factory project in Manchester as well as the proposed redevelopment of the London Road Fire Station by Levitt Bernstein, gave a presentation looking at how ‘iconic’ buildings change places.

Lyell discussed buildings including MVRDV’s Rotterdam Market Hall as well as the Factory and Allied London’s Manchester Civil Justice Centre, by Denton Corker Marshall, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2008.

Lyell concluded that iconic design might be desirable but could too easily fall short of design that truly served the end-user.

He said: ‘Self-focused designs may have value as iconic visual elements. But they add nothing to the life and vitality of the community they serve.’

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