The National Stadium in Beijing - nicknamed ‘the Birds Nest’ - by Herzog & de Meuron, with Arup Sport, the China Architectural Design and research Group, Arup Hong Kong and artist Ai Wei Wei, has scooped the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) prestigious Lubetkin Prize for the most outstanding work of architecture outside the European Union by an RIBA member.
The presentation of the RIBA’s Lubetkin Prize took place at a ceremony on 14 July at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Whitehall. Clive Lewis and Eugene Uys from Arup Sport accepted the award on Arup’s behalf.
Commenting on the award, J Parrish, Architectural Director and Leader of Arup Sport said:
“Arup Sport are very proud to have been awarded this prestigious prize along with our architectural design partners Herzog and de Meuron and CADG, and would like to thank the RIBA and the award panel for their support of our work.
The Beijing National Stadium has become a symbol of the success that modern China has achieved both in sport and in their support for new and radical architecture. The success of the 'Bird’s Nest' is founded on its architectural concept but lives on in the memories of an amazing Olympics and in the continued support of thousands of daily visitors.”
Michael Kwok, leader of Arup’s business in China commented:
“The Arup team was incredibly pleased to see the National Stadium in Beijing win the Lubetkin Award. The project is truly a masterpiece showcasing the seamless integration of architecture and engineering. Arup's expertise in designing stadia and sports venues was instrumental to the success of the project”.
Speaking about the building, the Lubetkin Prize judge and RIBA President, Sunand Prasad said: “This year’s shortlist for the Lubetkin Prize was easily the best we have seen, and although the discussion was intense, the result was clear. The National Stadium in Beijing will for a long time to come, and around the world, remain amongst the most memorable emblems of 2008 and of the resurgence of China as a global power. For a single work of architecture to hold such a charge is extremely rare, and at the same time to flawlessly accommodate a very complex set of functions makes the feat still more extraordinary. We would like to thank our partner, UKTI and sponsor, Cosentino, for supporting this awards reception.”
The National Stadium, Beijing beat off stiff competition from five other shortlisted buildings, three of which also involved Arup teams: Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3 by Foster and Partners with NACO, the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design and Arup; National Aquatics Centre, 'Water Cube', Beijing by PTW Architects with the China State Construction & Engineering Corporation, China State Construction Design International and Arup; Museum Brandhorst, Munich by Sauerbruch Hutton, lighting design by Arup.
Sean O'Casey Community Centre, Dublin by O’Donnell and Tuomey; and The British High Commission, Colombo, Sri Lanka, by Richard Murphy Architects, were also shortlisted.
The six shortlisted buildings were seen by a visiting jury comprising Sunand Prasad, RIBA President and chair, Paul Monaghan, architect and Chair of the RIBA Awards Group and Tony Chapman, RIBA Head of Awards, who reported to the full jury which also comprised Alison Brooks, architect and Tom Dyckhoff, journalist.
The prize is named after the world-renowned architect Berthold Lubetkin (1901-1990). Lubetkin’s daughter Sasha presented the winning architects with a unique cast bronze plaque, based loosely on her father’s design for the Penguin Pool at London Zoo, commissioned by the RIBA and designed and made by the artist Petr Weigl.