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What now for winner of first Stirling Prize?

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The future of the first building to win the RIBA Stirling Prize – Hodder Associates’ Centenary Building for the University of Salford – will be reviewed under a new masterplan for the university’s campus drawn up by 5plus Architects

The AJ100 practice was selected from a shortlist including BDP and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio to win the tender to create a 99ha development framework for the campus and surrounding area.

5plus director Tony Skipper told the AJ that all buildings on the existing estate would be evaluated to see whether they can be reused or should be demolished.

However, he remained optimistic that the currently empty 22-year-old building, which has seen its previous uses moved elsewhere on the campus, will be retained.

He said: ‘The Centenary Building is important for the university. We are looking at viable new uses and a purposeful reuse for it. I don’t think that there is a shortage of potential.’

The design pedigree of the building would also play into any decisions to be taken on the building’s future, he confirmed.

The Centenary Building, completed in 1995, won the first RIBA Stirling Prize the following year.

The award jury said: ‘Despite being built quickly and cheaply – the team had to be on site in just 12 weeks after appointment – the building is a dynamic, modern and sophisticated exercise in steel, glass and concrete.

‘They have bowed out the main façade to create a wide studio and lecture theatre space with indirect daylighting, breaking the ‘internal street’ with galleries and bridges and exposing rooms to this central space to give an air of purpose and animation.’

Skipper also said that one of the drives behind the new masterplan will be to create ‘industry collaboration zones’ to link the university with businesses in the town.

He said: ‘What we will see is, rather than the institution being a silo within the city, there will be much more outreach into the local community.

The university estate includes the listed elements of Salford Museum and Art Gallery and Salford Crescent Station plus large green spaces at the Meadows, Peel Park and the David Lewis Sports Ground.

Skipper said he hoped the masterplan would be completed by the end of the year.

Speaking to the AJ, Stephen Hodder, head of Hodder + Partners (formerly Hodder Associates) and a visiting professor at Salford University, said: ‘The future of the building has been a worry, but I’ve been reassured by Tony Skipper and we are here to help and support him.

‘Though we were not aware of it at the time, the scheme became a prototype for many academic buildings. [Its retention] would send out a strong message about how important the university and its School of the Built Environment views architecture.’

Asked whether the building was easily adaptable, he added: ‘The building was designed to be the School of Electrical Engineering before its change of use during construction to the Faculty of Art and Design Technology; so it has shown it has a degree of flexibility already.

‘But it is not a framed building, so it there are structural constraints. Hopefully it could be used to complement whatever is proposed for the adjacent Adelphi Building site.’

See the Centenary Building in the AJ Buildings Library

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Readers' comments (1)

  • A 22 year old building designed for one faculty, redesigned for another during construction, now empty and perhaps facing demolition.
    I wonder if its abandonment might be a symptom of a university culture that's inclined to empire building, and losing sight of the value of money, given the current questions about the actual, as opposed to assumed, quality of university teaching and the cost to students of obtaining higher education?

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