OXFORD Brookes University’s controversial new building has won a prestigious national award.
The Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA) has awarded the £132m John Henry Brookes Building its National Award.
It means the building could now be shortlisted for the highly-coveted RIBA Stirling Prize which will be announced later in the year.
But the building, which opened in February, proved controversial when it was first proposed, with objections because of its height.
Local property developer Martin Young took the battle over Oxford City Council’s decision to give the scheme planning permission to the Court of Appeal.
Headington Hill resident Susan Lake was another person who originally opposed the building.
She said: “The original height of the building was a tremendous insult and it would have loomed over us. We are very pleased that they made the building lower.
“The materials they have used are excellent and the whole finish is lovely. I think they deserve their award, especially for their sustainability.”
Professor Janet Beer, vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, said: “The John Henry Brookes Building provides our students with inspirational spaces to match our excellent teaching, support and research.
“We put the student experience at the heart of everything we do here as a university and we are delighted that our beautiful building has received national recognition from RIBA.
“We look forward to this award-winning space inspiring students for many years to come.”
The John Henry Brookes Building is home to library and teaching space with social learning areas, a students’ union and support services.
Today’s announcement of the building being given a National Award follows last month’s revelation that it had won three gongs in the RIBA South Awards.
Buildings need to enter and win a National Award in order to be considered for the Stirling Prize – which in recent years has been won by 30 St Mary Axe (AKA The Gherkin) and the Scottish Parliament building.
The Bishop Edward King Chapel in Ripon College Cuddesdon was shortlisted for the award last year but lost to a renovated 16th-century Warwickshire manor house.
RIBA President Stephen Hodder said: “This year’s RIBA National Award winners show that exceptional architecture can be found anywhere: on any high street, in any village or town, and with any budget.
“These buildings show the challenges that can be overcome with pure architectural creativity. It is evident that each building on this year’s list has been a labour of love but worth every penny and effort.”
The shortlist for the Stirling Prize will be announced on July 17.
The Oxford Mail contacted Mr Young – who dropped his appeal in 2012 after being faced with huge legal costs – but he did not respond.
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