14 July 2016
The Weston Library has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2016, considered the most prestigious award for architecture in the UK.
The Weston Library, which is part of the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries, was one of only 6 buildings across the UK shortlisted but one of two within the University of Oxford - the Blavatnik School of Government was also shortlisted. The remaining four buildings shortlisted are: City of Glasgow College (Riverside Campus); Newport Street Gallery, Vauxhaull London; Outhouse, Gloucestershire and Trafalgar Place, Elephant & Castle, London.
The six shortlisted buildings will now go head-to-head for architecture's highest accolade, to be awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on Thursday 6 October 2016. Now in its 21st year, the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize is sponsored by Almacantar. The shortlist features projects by previous RIBA Stirling Prize winners, Herzog & de Meuron (Laban Dance Centre, 2003) and Wilkinson Eyre (Magna Centre, Rotherham, 2001; Gateshead Millennium Bridge, 2002). Reiach and Hall, Caruso St John and dRMM have all been nominated once before. Michael Laird Architects and Loyn & Co Architects are shortlisted for the first time.
'The RIBA Stirling Prize is awarded to the building that has made the biggest contribution to the evolution of architecture in a given year,' said RIBA President, Jane Duncan. 'With the dominance of university and further education buildings on the shortlist, it is clear that quality architecture's main patrons this year are from the education sector. I commend these enlightened clients and supporters who have bestowed such remarkable education buildings. Sponsors, such as the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, and Damien Hirst are continuing in the proud history of private patronage of architecture, and their continued support contrasts the slump in publicly-funded architecture. The shortlisted projects are each fantastic new additions to their individual locations - on an urban street, a city riverside, an estate regeneration, an historic city centre and a hidden part of the countryside - but their stand-out common quality is the inspiration they will bring to those who study, live, visit and pass by them, for generations to come. To me, this shortlist reflects everything that is great about UK architecture - a blend of experimental, artistic vision and a commitment to changing people's lives for the better.'
The Weston Library opened to the public in March 2015 following a dramatic, three-year transformation by Wilkinson Eyre architects. The refurbishment transformed the 1930s listed building, originally designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, into a new cultural and intellectual landmark that has proved hugely popular with everyone from local residents and tourists to scholars at Oxford and from around the world.
'We are delighted and honoured that the Weston Library has been shortlisted for prestigious Stirling Prize,' said Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian. 'Wilkinson Eyre's innovative transformation of Gilbert Scott's Grade II listed building has created a stunning and incredibly popular space where visitors and scholars can explore the Bodleian's historic collections.'
The renovated Library includes study rooms, reading rooms, a Visiting Scholars Centre and a Centre for Digital Scholarship, and also welcomes members of the public to its two exhibition spaces, a lecture theatre, café and shop. This world-class facility has been fully open for over a year and has received almost 1 million visitors. It was formally opened by HRH the Duke of Cambridge in May 2016.
This latest honour for the Weston Library follows a number of accolades. In June, the Weston Library won a RIBA National Award. In April, the Weston Library won a RIBA South Regional Award as well as the overall award: RIBA South Building of the Year 2016. It also recently won the Architects' Journal's 2016 Building of the Year award and in 2015 the building won an Oxford Preservation Trust Award. It has been shortlisted for several awards, including the Architects' Journal Retrofit Awards, which will be announced on 14 September. In 2015 it was shortlisted for the Building Magazine Project of the Year (2015) and the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award.
The winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize will be announced on Thursday 6 October 2016.