Strategy and quality set it apart
John McAslan + Partners for Lancaster University
Contract value: £8.4m
Project Architect of the Year (Paul Hughes, John McAslan + Partners)
The precise grid of this building is extended into a full height entrance portal, much needed on this tightly planned campus. Behind it, at a similar scale, is the impressive atrium sandwiched between two conventional framed slab blocks.
Two blocks of engineering laboratories and workshops interspersed with staff offices and computer suites are brought to life by the atrium which makes it a vibrant self-aware educational experience akin to a science museum for students, staff and visitors. Glass walls between the labs and public areas may at first have seemed alien to teaching staff, but show how early strategy and a persuasive committed architect can result in a brave decision and a fine building.
The jury admired the careful detailing, typical of the practice, but thought it was the strategy and quality that set it apart. There is also a logic to services distribution in science buildings which encourages verticality. The influence of Louis Khan’s 1965 Richards Medical Research on this treatment can be detected, the strategy pursued in a subtle integrated way.