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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 October, 2004, 22:39 GMT 23:39 UK
Building prize for 'icon Gherkin'
The 'Gherkin'

The "Gherkin", the City of London's landmark Swiss Re Tower, has won a prestigious architecture award.

The favourite, officially called 30 St Mary Axe, took the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize on a unanimous vote by judges.

The prize honours the building making the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year.

Five other new buildings were short listed for the 20,000 award, presented in London on Saturday night.

The judges, who for the first time in the award's nine-year history made a unanimous decision, said the building was "already a popular icon".

It had an "elegant and impressive" entrance, while the top-floor bar would be "one of the very best rooms in 21st Century London", they added.

Kunsthaus arts centre, Graz, Austria

Other contenders alongside Lord Foster's building were The Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, a specialist school in Bexley, London, and Coventry's city centre redevelopment.

Dublin's Spire monument and the Kunsthaus arts centre in Graz, Austria, were also nominated.

The award covers buildings in Britain or designed by a British architect anywhere in the European Union.

Previous winners include the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and a multi-coloured London dance centre.

The prize is named after the architect Sir James Stirling, who died in 1992.

'Great design'

Other winners at this year's ceremony included the City of Manchester stadium, designed by Arup Associates.

It won the RIBA Inclusive Design Award for great design in a safe and convenient environment.

City of Manchester stadium
The City of Manchester stadium also won an award
HOK International Ltd won the Crown Estate Conservation Award for their restoration of the King's Library at the British Museum.

Stock Orchard Street, a green residential project beside King's Cross Station in central London, designed by Sarah Wigglesworth, won the RIBA Sustainability Award.

A rubber-clad beach house called Vista on Dungeness Beach won the Stephen Lawrence Prize for the best construction with a budget under 350,000.

See the winning building, inside and out

Dance centre wins design award
13 Oct 03  |  London
Top award for landmark bridge
14 Oct 02  |  England
Award for steelhouse science
21 Oct 01  |  England

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