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Year in review: the biggest stories of 2015

AJ news of the year
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Month by month, the AJ’s top 12 stories of the year



Costly Kuma 

January: Costly Kuma

January: Costly Kuma

Kuma’s V&A Dundee

The cost of Kengo Kuma’s new outpost for the V&A in Dundee balloons from £49 million to £80 million. The opening date is also pushed back three years to 2018. An official investigation later concludes that the waterfront scheme could never have been built to the original budget. 

Also in January

Zaha ends lawsuit over libel and donates cash to unnamed labour rights organisation
Caruso St John wins contest to remodel Asplund’s Stockholm City Library
Aedas buys RHWL


Burning bridges 

February: Burning bridges

February: Burning bridges

Bystrup Architecture Design and Engineering - with Robin Snell & Partners’ winning bridge

In a year for contentious Thames bridges, a proposed footbridge at Nine Elms is criticised almost as soon as all 74 entries in the Wandsworth Council-backed contest are made public. Reiner de Graaf of OMA, one of the entrants, calls the competition a wasteful exercise in political lobbying, while Westminster councillors object to the principle of a new bridge altogether. Even so, a winner – by Bystrup and Robin Snell Architects – was duly chosen last month.

Also in February

Jane Priestman wins inaugural Ada Huxtable Prize
Ellis Woodman becomes new AF chief 


Mack remake

March: Mack remake

March: Mack remake

Model of the Mack by Page/Park

Glasgow architect Page\Park lands one of the most high-profile and painstaking jobs of the last decade: the restoration of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s burned-out Glasgow School of Art. An audit of the building’s 259 rooms shows that more than half of the building was damaged by fire. The practice estimates the job will require 1,100 drawings and 20 hand-made models.

Also in March

Frei Otto awarded posthumous Prizker prize
Michael Graves dies
C20 launches new bid to get Robin Hood Gardens listed  


Moira Gemmill 

April: Moira Gemmill

April: Moira Gemmill

V&A design director Moira Gemmill

British architecture loses inspirational client Moira Gemmill after she dies in a tragic cycling accident on Lambeth Bridge in London. Until her departure to lead the capital programmes for the Royal Collection Trust, Gemmill had been in charge of the V&A’s FuturePlan – the ambitious strategy to reinvigorate the world’s first design museum.

Also in April

BDP and Wolfgang Buttress’ Milan Expo pavilion completes 
Claire Bennie leaves Peabody


Labour loses

May: Labour loses

May: Labour loses

Labour loses the 2015 General Election

An AJ poll shows that architects want Labour to win the general election, blasting the coalition’s record on major built-environment areas such as housing. The Conservatives romp to victory, but later in the year another AJ survey suggests the profession is happier about the result of the subsequent Labour leadership race, with 74 per cent of readers backing Jeremy Corbyn.

Also in May

O’Donnell and Tuomey and Allies and Morrison win major Olympicopolis contest
Google plans army of robots to build Heatherwick and BIG’s proposed Google HQ
Foster + Partners tops AJ120 for fourth year in a row


Aylesbury protest

June: Aylesbury protest

June: Aylesbury protest

Social housing protesters at the AJ120 Awards ceremony

Activists opposing the ‘gentrification’ of the Aylesbury estate in south London protest outside the AJ120 awards at the Tower of London, pelting delegates with paper aeroplanes and berating them through loudspeakers. The audience appears to take it on the chin, and the AJ steps up its More Homes Better Homes campaign, while its new Architecture on Trial series focuses on the ethics of practising architecture today.

Also in June

James Gowan, Charles Correa and masterplanner Clive Dutton die
PLP reveals replacement for doomed Helter Skelter 
Selgas Cano’s Serpentine pavilion opens 
Heatherwick and BIG take over from AHMM on Google job


Zaha arena shelved

July: Zaha arena shelved

July: Zaha arena shelved

ZHA’s proposed New National Stadium of Japan

Japan’s prime minister Shinzō Abe shelves Zaha Hadid’s proposed £1.3 billion Tokyo Olympic stadium after the budget soars to almost double the original £674 million estimate. Hadid robustly defends her scheme, blaming steep increases in construction costs. Two months later she would receive the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, an achievement slightly soured by an accusatory interview on the Today programme, which she cut short. The BBC later apologised. The stadium contest was relaunched and won by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma

Also in July

Alejandro Aravena appointed to direct Venice Biennale 
PLP loses Andy von Bradsky
Man arrested and later admits theft from humanitarian charity Article 25 


FAT from the dead

August: FAT from the dead

August: FAT from the dead


The Architects’ Journal is commandeered by legendary architecture studio FAT. The trio – Sean Griffiths, Charles Holland and Sam Jacob – disbanded in December 2013, but reform for one week only to edit the AJ. The issue is both delightful and deeply weird, and is mainly concerned with death. ‘Just the thing for a summer special as you head off to the beach,’ remarks Jacob.


Garden Bridge

September: Garden Bridge

September: Garden Bridge

Source: ARUP

Proposed view looking right from the Garden Bridge

After the AJ investigates the procurement of London’s £175 million Garden Bridge, Transport for London boss Richard De Cani is interrogated by the London Assembly’s oversight committee. De Cani claims an internal audit has largely exonerated the public sector client, but an earlier and far harsher draft of the audit is subsequently leaked, and TfL is forced to admit the process that saw Heatherwick Studio appointed was ‘neither open nor objective’.

Also in September

Malcolm Fraser goes under 
Foster + Partners reveals plans for series of drone ports in Africa
Zaha wins Royal Gold Medal


AHMM wins Stirling Prize 

October: AHMM wins Stirling Prize

October: AHMM wins Stirling Prize

Burntwood School by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

It’s fourth time lucky for AHMM as it wins the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize for its concrete-clad Burntwood School in Wandsworth, south London. The £41 million ‘tour de force’ was among the last projects funded through the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. ‘We were starting to think it might never be our day,’ founding partner Paul Monaghan tells the AJ.

Also in October

RMJM bosses convicted over non-payment of staff  


RIBA House of the Year

November: RIBA House of the Year

November: RIBA House of the Year

Flint House, Buckinghamshire by Skene Catling de la Pena

Architecture enjoys prime-time TV coverage when the RIBA relaunches its Manser Medal as the House of the Year Award on Channel 4. The four-part series, Grand Designs: RIBA House of the Year, features all of the 20 longlisted houses, and is presented by Kevin McCloud. In the final episode, Skene Catling de la Peña’s Flint House for the Rothschild family is unveiled as the overall winner.

Also in November

OMA wins contest for Manchester’s ‘Factory’ arts venue
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners consults on redundancies ahead of its move to the Cheesgrater
AJ retains IBP Magazine of the Year title



December: Self-Assemble

December: Self-Assemble

Assemble picks up the 2015 Turner Prize

East London architecture outfit Assemble becomes the first architecture practice – and first collective – to win the Turner Prize. The 18-strong group is handed the £25,000 prize for its housing-focused work with local residents to regenerate the run-down Granby Four Streets estate in Liverpool, a triumph described as ‘changing the nature of the art prize’.

Also in December

Mull resigns from the Cass
Adjaye named on shortlist for Obama’s Presidential Library
Heatherwick’s King’s Cross scheme gets the go-ahead

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