The Royal Institute of British Architects revealed Níall McLaughlin as the 2016 Charles Jencks Award recipient today. Named after landscape designer and architectural theorist Charles Jencks, the award recognizes an individual or practice for their recent major contributions to architectural theory and practice simultaneously. The notable roster of winners include, Tatiana Bilbao, Rem Koolhaas, and Steven Holl.
Read on for more.
Níall McLaughlin founded his Camden-based firm in 1990, and gained recognition throughout his career. Some of his accolades include the 1998 Young British Architect of the Year and the 2015 Stephen Lawrence Prize winner.
Some of Níall McLaughlin's projects include: the Bandstand (Bexhill 2001), Pier Cafe (Deal 2006), Dirk Cove House (Cork 2004), ARC Building (Hull 2005), Goleen House (Cork 2008), Bishop Edward King Chapel (Oxford 2013), Olympic Athletes' Housing (London 2012), Peabody Housing (Whitechapel 2015), and the Somerville Student Residence (Oxford 2010). Current projects include museum designs for London's Natural History Museum and the Auckland Castle in Durham. He also represented Ireland at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.
On receiving the award, Níall McLaughlin said in a statement: “For me, architectural practice includes drawing, writing and building as interlinked activities. It is a continual ferrying between an engagement in the natural processes required to bring something reliable and concrete into being, and the need to clear a space for the expression of doubt, possibility and a half-glimpsed ideal. I acknowledge the distinguished list of previous winners of this award; and I am very grateful for the recognition.”
RIBA President Jane Duncan described McLaughlin as a “most-deserving recipient of the award”. “Niall’s body of work exemplifies the spirit of this award, which
recognises the ability to seamlessly and in this case, beautifully,
build theory into one’s practice,” she said.
In his citation, Charles Jencks stated: “Niall McLaughlin gives the profession of architecture a good name. Staying within the confines of a tradition – broadly put – between classicism and modernism, he is nonetheless not worried about changing both by hybridising them, nor frightened of being called postmodern. In the time honoured manner of Mozart, he takes well known themes and tropes – the classical repertoire of the five platonic solids and their cognate modes (ellipse, parabola, pointed arch and so on) – and plays new games with them. This Free Style Classicism of vigour and light is the Old Game as defined by Lutyens, but it is orchestrated very lightly without being etiolated. His structural logic carried out with their repetitive geometries creates a new kind of Optical Architecture...
Materiality, geometry, light, metaphor, abstractions, ornament and elegance are the obvious qualities. Quotations and iconic expression are sometimes prominent, and unembarrassed, unlike much other apologetic work today [...] Obviously he has a strong enough belief in eclectic practice to overcome the usual taboos that straightjacket architects.”
McLaughlin will be presented with the Jencks Award and will deliver a public lecture at RIBA's London headquarters on October 25.
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