A "once-in-a-generation project.” That’s how David Adjaye, chair of The Stirling Prize judging panel, described Bloomberg’s new London-based European HQ, the winner of this year’s RIBA Prize. Thought to be the largest stone building in the City of London since St Paul’s Cathedral, and credited as the world's most sustainable office, the pioneering project was deemed to have "pushed the boundaries of research and innovation in architecture".
Judged against a range of criteria, including design vision, innovation and originality; capacity to stimulate, engage and delight occupants and visitors; accessibility and sustainability; fit for purpose and client satisfaction, the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious accolade for architecture, and is awarded annually to a building considered to have made the most significant contribution to the field during the past year. Designed by Foster + Partners, the Bloomberg building represents the third win for the British international studio that was founded back in 1967 by Sir Norman Foster, and it is the eighth time the practice had been shortlisted for the prize.
Encompassing an entire block of central London, and housing all of the company’s employees for the first time, Bloomberg’s new HQ is formed of two buildings connected by a bridge. These buildings sit either side of a new public arcade that re-establishes an ancient Roman road and incorporates new access to Bank Underground station. Slabs of Derbyshire sandstone and fins of hand-patinated Japanese bronze form the grand facade of the ten-storey building, which features a mirrored artwork by Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson above the main entrance, and the sculpture surfaces at the foot of a 210-metre-high bronze ramping stairway that spirals up to the top of the open plan office building.
While praising the design of the building itself, the judges felt that its real success was in the experience for staff, visitors and passers-by, “how Bloomberg has opened up new spaces to sit and breathe in the City; the visceral impact of the roof-top view across to St Paul’s from the concourse space, the energy of descending the helix ramp or settling into a desk in one of the dynamic new workspaces."
Five other projects were shortlisted for the 2018 prize, which reflect the now familiar diverse nature of the competition. They were Bushey Cemetery by Waugh Thistleton Architects, Chadwick Hall by Henley Halebrown, Tate St Ives by Jamie Fobert Architects with Evans & Shalev, Storey’s Field Community Centre and Nursery by MUMA, and the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre by Niall McLaughlin Architects.
Photos: Nigel Young