Sunday, 16 August 2009

Whitworth Art Gallery Shortlist Unveiled

The shortlist for a competition to design an internal overhaul and extension to the beautiful Grade-II listed Whitworth Art Gallery on Oxford Road, Manchester, has been revealed and the biggest surprise is that Zaha Hadid and Feilden Clegg Bradley have missed out. 139 practices had originally expressed an interest in working on the project, from which a longlist of 10 practices were selected for interviews by a jury panel. The full longlist was as follows: Amanda Levete Architects, Dixon Jones, Edward Cullinan Architects, Eric Parry Architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Haworth Tompkins, MUMA, Stanton Williams, Stephenson Bell with Carmody Groake, Zaha Hadid Architects.

Originally the longlist drew attention for being headed up two 'starchitects' both of which are female (Zaha Hadid and Amanda Levete) as well as featuring last year's Stirling Prize winners (Feilden Clegg Bradley) and current nominees for the UK's top Architecture prize (Eric Parry). Local practice Stephenson Bell, whose work has included a reworking of Piccadilly Plaza and the Aeroworks building, had teamed up with Carmody Groake (architects of the 7/7 Memorial in London) and it is unfortunate that they didn't make the shortlist as the 2007 YAYA winners have showed in the few completed projects in their portfolio that they have an ability to craft original and thought provoking buildings. The fact that Feilden Clegg Bradley also didn't make the shortlist is a surprise as they seem to be the darlings of the Universities at the moment, with their new Business School for Manchester Metropolitan University and the new building planned for the Manchester School of Art, not to mentioned muted plans for the soon-to-be-former BBC site on Oxford Road.

The shortlist in the end is comprised of Amanda Levete Architects, Edward Cullinan Architects, Haworth Tompkins, MUMA and Stanton Williams. Amanda Levete perhaps the best known left on the list, famed for her work with the late Jan Kaplicky at Future Systems and brings with her a reputation for pushing the use of new materials in construction and creating iconic forms.

Image above: Amada Levete Architects, Corian Super Surfaces

Each of the shortlisted practices now have until mid-September to work on concept designs for the Gallery before they go on public display in October and a winner is announced in November. Look Up will be following closely as the competition progresses and will bring details of the public display when they are announced.

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