The Royal Institute of British Architects has announced changes to the format of its Stephen Lawrence Prize. Founded in the memory of aspiring architect Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racially-motived attack in 1993, the annual prize has been awarded since 1998 to a project with a construction budget of less than £1 million.
Under new eligibility requirements, the prize will now instead be awarded to a project led by an early-career architect, which, according to RIBA, will be “aimed at celebrating new architectural talent.” The institution will define ‘early-career architect’ as someone who has qualified within five years prior to the project’s completion date.
In addition to the eligibility change, the new format for the award will see one architecture student join the jury in selecting the winning scheme. The student, chosen by the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation, will also go on to be mentored by the winning project architect.
Like in previous years, the shortlist for the prize will be selected from winners of the UK RIBA Regional Awards, with the winner announced at the Stirling Prize Ceremony in October 2023. In 2022, the award went to the Hackney School of Food by Surman Weston.
“Since 1998, the Stephen Lawrence Prize has done important work in recognizing remarkable architecture — and as we approach the 25th edition, it seemed the right time to revisit the focus,” noted Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE, the mother of Stephen Lawrence. “Finding ways to increase diversity and inclusion are critical, and I am delighted that this new iteration of the award will solely recognize the work of early-career architects.”
“The revised eligibility, alongside the mentoring scheme, ensures what the award offers strongly aligns with our aim to celebrate those starting out in the industry,” Baroness Lawrence added.
News of the reform by RIBA comes weeks after the institute announced both a new diversity and inclusion chief and a new chief executive. Last month, meanwhile, the institute awarded the 2022 Stirling Prize to The New Library, Magdalene College by Niall McLaughlin Architects.
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