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Thursday, November 19, 1998 Published at 23:24 GMT


Air museum beats British Library to prize

The British Library building in London

The controversial British Library, favoured to win Britain's most prestigious architecture prize, has slipped to fourth place in the final rankings.

BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Peter Gould: British architects celebrate domestic and international success
Instead, the £20,000 annual Stirling Prize and the title of Building of the Year went to the American Air Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire.

The National Lottery-funded museum's architect, Sir Norman Foster, picked up the award from Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Mandelson at the Royal Institute of British Architects Awards dinner on Thursday.

[ image: Inside the American Air Museum at Duxford]
Inside the American Air Museum at Duxford
It was selected from a shortlist of 11 by a panel of five judges, with Rick Mather's house design in Hampstead, London, in second and Gunter Behnisch's Landesgirokasse Bank HQ in Stuttgart, Germany in third.

In an unprecedented move, the heavily criticised British Library, designed by architect Sir Colin St John Wilson, was added to the list of finalists by the judges at the last minute.

The red-brick building, which cost more than £500m and took 20 years to be realised, was initially rejected by the juries that select the shortlist.

Prince Charles once unflatteringly described it as looking like a "secret police building".

[ image: Space for 12 million books and 1200 readers]
Space for 12 million books and 1200 readers
The first Stephen Lawrence award, for the best building under £500,000, went to Ian Ritchie Architects for their Cultural Greenhouse in southern France.

The prize honours murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence who had planned to study as an architect before his death in race-related attack.

Chairman of the judging panel David Rock said: "Three of this year's shortlist are lottery-funded buildings.

"It is gratifying that this, the first major prize we have given to a lottery-funded building, is also a splendid example in the best tradition of Foster buildings."

Other winners included the Leicester's Richard Attenborough Centre for the Education and Health Award.

The Sport and Leisure Award was split three ways between Manchester's Quay Bar, Crystal Palace's Concert Platform and the Duxford American Air Museum.

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