Hopes for the Lyric Theatre winning architecture's top prize have been dashed after the Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge was announced the winner of the Stirling Prize tonight. Belfast's Lyric Theatre was one of just six buildings across the UK to be shortlisted for the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize.
As well as the eventual winner, the Belfast theatre faced stiff competition from a high quality list of contenders – the Olympic Stadium, in London; the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, Yorkshire; Maggie’s Centre, a Glasgow cancer hospital; and New Court, a city of London bank.
The Stirling Prize is presented each year by RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects, for the greatest contribution to architecture by projects ‘built or designed inBritain’ and buildings are eligible if they are in the UK or EU. It has never been won in Northern Ireland.
The £18.1m Lyric Theatre, which was completely rebuilt on its former site in south Belfast and reopened in 2011, has won a string of architectural prizes in its opening year, including Best Building at the Royal Society of Ulster Architects’ (RSUA).
Lyric architects O’Donnell + Tuomey, from Dublin have been so close to winning the Stirling Prize, having been shortlisted an incredible four times.
The RIBA judges said the architects had “created an exceptional auditorium” which has “a special, sculptural interior and incredible acoustics”.
Previous Stirling Prize winners include ‘the Gherkin’ in London, the Scottish parliament building and Madrid Barajas Airport in Spain.
The Lyric Chairman, Mark Carruthers, said: “Firstly we’d like to congratulate the Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge. It was always going to be tough to win the Stirling Prize, but we are genuinely delighted to have been shortlisted in the final six for such a prestigious award.
“We are very pleased, in particular, for our architects O’Donnell + Tuomey, who thoroughly deserved to be nominated again. This recognition is a tremendous boost for the theatre and it’s testament to the many people who helped turn our dream of building a stunning, landmark theatre on the Lagan into a reality.”