Hadid - Stirling Prize for Evelyn Grace Academy
Thus Evelyn Grace Academy's 1,200 students are divided among four smaller sub-schools: the "Evelyn" middle and upper schools and the "Grace" middle and upper schools. The building's design derives largely from the client's charge to give each of these four entities its own independent identity while still creating the sense of an integrated whole.
Completed in 2010, the four-story, 10,745-square-meter (115,660-square-foot) building is located on a midblock lot bounded by streets on its longer east and west sides. Overall, the building plan is generally saltire (shaped like a diagonal cross).
The three-story primary volume of the school takes the shape of a narrow Z in plan. This form rests atop a ground floor composed of three separate volumes that contain shared facilities — for arts, library and administration, and sports, respectively.
Separating the three ground-floor volumes are two breezeways, one of which bridges a bright-red 100-meter running track. That this boldly colored track occupies such a prominent location, serving as a visual reference point throughout the building, befits a school whose specialties include sport.
As much outdoor activity space as possible is shoehorned into the tight, 1.4-hectare (3.5-acre) site, including a small triangular plaza sheltered by the building's long western facade. Given the limited space, each of the school's three sports fields, including one large artificial-turf soccer field, is designed to serve multiple purposes. Other landscaping includes trees and small lawns in several locations and a small wildflower garden.
Two entries to the site lead from each of the adjacent streets. From these entrance points, located next to the running track, paths lead to one of the many specialized building entrances. The sports and library/ administration wings are entered from within the breezeway over the track, while the arts and technology block is entered through the second breezeway.
From near the site entries, ramps and stairs lead up one level to three expansive outdoor terraces that serve as entries for three of the academy's four schools. The fourth school is entered via a stair at the ground-floor level, just off the western plaza.
Four Schools in One
The Evelyn and Grace schools occupy either end of the building's main three-story form. The schools are organized according to level: the middle schools occupy the entire second floor and half of the third, while the upper schools are generally above them, on the remainder of the third floor and the entire fourth floor.
The individuality of the four school zones is expressed on the building's facade in two key ways. First, special aluminum banding marks the outline of each 1.5-floor school volume. Second, the enclosures for each school are slightly out of alignment with the adjacent spaces, producing recesses and overhangs that set the schools apart from each other.
Between the Evelyn and Grace schools, a central zone of common space comprises two large rooms, providing an interaction zone for all the schools that can be subdivided using operable partitions into spaces that serve dining, assembly, sports, and performance functions. This zone is expressed on the building exterior by an uninterrupted pattern of glazing, readily identifiable as separate from, but undeniably connected to, the schools on either side.
Bones and Skin
The primary structural materials of Evelyn Grace Academy are steel and concrete. Reinforced concrete columns, beams, and floor slabs form much of the building's support system, while steel columns and beams are used in some upper-floor locations. In addition, diagonal columns and sharply angled walls, also of concrete, are used to support the building's sharply angling zigzag forms.
The building exterior features aluminum rainscreen panel cladding and a structural glazing system.
Although a muted gray-and-white color palette predominates, the interior spaces are nonetheless lively. Frequent textural changes and spatial variety — partly the internal resolution of the building's zigzag structure and saltire plan — work together with extensive interior glazing to produce classrooms, hallways, and gathering spaces unlike those of a traditional school building. In the building's wide hallways, some clusters of student lockers in bright green and yellow provide splashes of color. And some interior window surrounds are also painted with a bright, complementary green.
Along with white drywall, the dominant interior finish materials are metal panels, concrete, and glass. Wood, although rarer, is also used: as flooring in a gymnasium, or in a built-in bench in a hallway.
This is the first school that Zaha Hadid Architects has designed, and the firm's first project in its home city of London, despite having practiced there for just over 30 years. Hadid designed the £37.5 million project with Patrik Schumacher, the firm's codirector. Evelyn Grace Academy is also the first school building to win the Stirling Prize in the program's 16 award cycles to date.
The Stirling Prize
While Norman Foster (1998 and 2004) and Richard Rogers (2006 and 2009) have each seen buildings of theirs win twice, back-to-back wins by Hadid are meeting with some grumbling from leaders in the UK architecture community, and calls for "greater transparency."
The 2011 Stirling Prize winner was chosen from a shortlist of six nominees. The 2011 Stirling Prize shortlist also included two other new-built structures: An Gaeláras Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, an Irish language arts and cultural center in Derry, Northern Ireland, designed by O'Donnell + Tuomey; and the Velodrome, a cycling arena designed by Hopkins Architects for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Three other shortlisted projects were significant modifications of existing buildings: renovations by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris to the Angel Building, a speculative office building in London; an addition by David Chipperfield Architects to the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany; and renovations by Bennetts Associates to the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Criteria for the award included design vision and originality, capacity to engage occupants and visitors, accessibility, sustainability, and client satisfaction, among others.
The RIBA awards the Stirling Prize annually, with cosponsor The Architects' Journal. This year the prize was also cosponsored by Kingspan Benchmark. Named after the architect Sir James Stirling (1926-1992), the £20,000 prize honors an exemplary building either built in Britain or designed by a firm whose principal office is in Britain and built elsewhere in the European Union.
In addition to MAXXI, recent winners include Maggie's Center in London, by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners; Accordia housing development by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, and Maccreanor Lavington; the Museum of Modern Literature by David Chipperfield Architects; the Scottish Parliament by EMBT/ RMJM; 30 St. Mary Axe by Foster + Partners; the Laban Centre by Herzog and de Meuron; and Gateshead Millennium Bridge by Wilkinson Eyre Architects.
Lubetkin, Lawrence, and Client Prizes
Concurrent with the Stirling Prize, the RIBA announced the results of three other noteworthy awards programs.
The Met, a 60-story residential tower in Bangkok, Thailand, designed by WOHA, received the 2011 Lubetkin Prize for international architecture. This tower also previously received a national architecture award in 2010 from the Australian Institute of Architects.
One of the buildings shortlisted for the Lubetkin Prize was another project by Zaha Hadid Architects: the Guangzhou Opera House in Guangzhou, China.
The winner of this year's Stephen Lawrence Prize — an award for projects with a construction budget of under £1 million — was given to St. Patrick's School Library and Music Room in London, designed by Coffey Architects.
And finally, the Royal Shakespeare Company — the client for the recent renovation of the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres, shortlisted for this year's Stirling Prize — was named the RIBA Client of the Year.
The 2011 RIBA Stirling Prize jury was chaired by Angela Brady, RIBA president, and also included Sir Peter Cook, architect and academic, formerly of Archigram; Hanif Kara, engineer, Adams Kara Taylor; Dan Pearson, landscape designer, Dan Pearson Studio; and Alison Brooks, architect, Alison Brooks Architects.
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David Owen is the managing production editor of ArchitectureWeek. More by David Owen