THE Lyric Theatre in Belfast has been shortlisted for the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize.
The new theatre is one of six new buildings to be shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (Riba) Stirling Prize.
The shortlisting of the new Lyric, by Dublin-based O’Donnell + Tuomey, marks the fourth time the practice has been nominated for the prize. Last year, its An Gaelaras cultural centre in Londonderry was shortlisted.
The Lyric’s distinctive red Belfast brick echoes the existing south Belfast residential landscape.
The panel said the auditorium has a “special, sculptural interior and incredible acoustics”.
The Stirling Prize is now in its 17th year and celebrates the best of new British architecture. The winner will be announced in Manchester in October.
Also on the shortlist is London’s Olympic Stadium, by Populous, which will shortly host the opening ceremony of the 2012 Games,
Bookmaker William Hill has given odds of 5/1 that the stadium will win the £20,000 prize.
Judges said: “There is a spirit of fun — they have designed a space to create an amazing atmosphere, where every seat has a great view.”
The favourite to walk away with the prize is David Chipperfield Architects, for their Hepworth Wakefield gallery in Yorkshire.
The company is the only previous Riba Stirling Prize winner on this year’s shortlist. In 2007, it scooped the award for the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, Germany.
Also nominated is OMA’s Maggie’s Centre at Gartnaval Hospital in Glasgow, which was described as “thoughtful and intimate” by the judging panel.
OMA has also been nominated for the new Rothschild’s Bank building at New Court in London, designed with Allies and Morrison. The bank has been on the same site since 1809, which is now a conservation area.
Judges praised an “imaginative solution to a very constrained site”. The building, which also houses the Rothschild art collection, was also praised for its “synthesis between an office and a museum”.
The Sainsbury Laboratory, by Stanton Williams, is a “stimulating working environment” to attract world-class scientists, the judges said.
It was praised for its energy efficiency and green approach. Rainwater is collected from the roof and stored in two huge tanks which irrigate the garden’s glasshouse and plant chambers.
Riba said heritage and education were strong themes in this year’s shortlist, with the Sainsbury Laboratory housing Charles Darwin’s collection, along with New Court and Hepworth Wakefield.
Riba president Angela Brady said: “The annual Riba Stirling Prize celebrates architectural excellence and this year we have an incredibly strong list of contenders.”