Monday, November 8, 2010

Architectural and Construction awards


THREE of the past year’s major Dublin commercial and civic projects have picked up Opus awards in the over €20 million category: the Aviva stadium at Lansdowne Road, the Criminal Courts of Justice and the Grand Canal Theatre.

There were four winners in this category and the other building is a spa and leisure building, added to the Europe Hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry. It was designed by Gottstein Architects (which was established by Achim Gottstein, whose father worked on the original hotel in the 1960s).

The Opus Architectural and Construction awards are assessed by a panel who shortlist the submitted buildings and then spend four days visiting them. The core panel has been judging the award for many years and, says chairman Ciaran O’Connor, they are “from different backgrounds and don’t always agree”. This leads to lively discussion over some projects.

O’Connor is an excellent critic of buildings and has a keen eye for good design, planning issues and build-quality. The judges’ citations are balanced and well observed and show that the judges were looking not only for aesthetic qualities but fitness for purpose, ease of use and context.

The citations are not afraid to allude to a building’s shortcomings, even in winning projects. For instance, the Grand Canal Theatre gets an award but with the note that “there was much discussion about the applique of stylistic motifs or ‘branding’ to this building and its relation to the Grand Canal Basin”, hinting that architect Daniel Libeskind’s work has been a bit repetitive and stylistic of late. Yet they acknowledge that the structure, built by John Sisk and Sons, “is an achievement” and that the “design supports and enhances the overall theatrical experience”.

The courts, by architects Henry J Lyons and contractor PJ Hegarty and Sons, are praised for their immaculate detailing and quality of build: “There may be quibbles regarding some elements of urban design but it does most things very well”.

Issues in building procurement are addressed in the statement, “There is a design and build quality rarely seen in other public private partnership projects”.

The Aviva stadium, by Scott Tallon Walker and Populous architects and contractor John Sisk and Son, is praised for being “contextually skillful” in the way its roof rises and falls to fit into its neighbourhood.

“This stadium is an example of how good design can transform an ordinary brief on a difficult site through a few well-chosen and strategic moves.”

Other non-housing winners of the Opus Awards include Skibbereen Credit Union, in the Heritage category, by Mike Shanahan and Associates and contractor Murnane and O’Shea, which follows good conservation practice in distinguishing between the existing structure and the addition: “The new and old elements are clearly and separately handled with care and precision”.

A Pastoral Centre in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, by McGarry Ní Éanigh architects and contractor Aidan Elliot Construction was Highly Commended in the Under €2 million category for transcending “its mundane site and impoverished context”.

The Milk Market redevelopment in Limerick, by Healy and Partners Architects and contractor LM Keating, got an Award in this category being praised for being “modern yet modest”.

In the €2 million to €20 million category, GKMP Architects and SIAC Construction got an Award for Urban Landscaping of the Parade and Canal Walk in Kilkenny which is “modest in execution but does the obvious and everyday things very well”.

Source: The Irish Times


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  3. Hey I'm Diane C. Brown. That’s a great idea. I have read your articles.The Aviva stadium, by Scott Tallon Walker and Populous architects and contractor John Sisk and Son, is praised for being “contextually skillful” in the way its roof rises and falls to fit into its neighbourhood.