RIBA Client of the Year shortlist reveals the clients championing brilliant architecture


The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today (Thursday 1 September 2016) announced the shortlist for the 2016 RIBA Client of the Year award. The annual award, supported by The Bloxham Charitable Trust, recognises the role that a good client plays in the creation of fine architecture.

The 2016 shortlist is:

  • Leicester Print Workshop – nominated by Takero Shimazaki Architects for their 2016 RIBA Award-winning Leicester Print Workshop
  • Manchester City Council – nominated by Mecanoo for their 2016 RIBA National Award-winning HOME (in addition to the 2016 RIBA North West Award winners Manchester Central Library by Ryder Architecture and Library Walk Link Building by SimpsonHaugh and Partners)
  • University of Oxford Estates – nominated by WilkinsonEyre for their 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlisted Weston Library
  • Westmorland Limited – nominated by Glenn Howells Architects for the 2016 RIBA National Award winning Gloucester Services by Glenn Howells Architects and AFL Architects

The winner of the 2016 RIBA Client of the Year Award will be announced at the RIBA Stirling Prize party on Thursday 6 October at RIBA in central London.

The Architects’ Journal is media partner for the RIBA awards, including RIBA Client of the Year, and professional media partner for the RIBA Stirling Prize. The RIBA Stirling Prize is sponsored by Almacantar.


Notes to editors:

1. For further press information please contact Callum Reilly in the RIBA Press Office or 020 7307 3757

2. Previous winners of the RIBA Client of the Year Award include The Royal Shakespeare Company (2011), Olympic Delivery Authority (2012), the National Trust (2013), Manchester Metropolitan University (2014) and National Theatre (2015).

3. The Royal Institute of British Architects (@RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment.

4. Tom Bloxham MBE of Urban Splash supports the RIBA Client of the Year award through his charity The Bloxham Charitable Trust.

5. Almacantar is a property investment and development company specialising in large-scale, complex investments in Central London, with the potential to create long-term value through development, repositioning or active asset management. Since launching in 2010, Almacantar has acquired a number of prime assets with untapped potential in the heart of London, including: Centre Point, Marble Arch Tower, CAA House, 125 Shaftesbury Avenue and One and Two South Bank Place. For further information please contact: Finsbury +44 (0)20 7251 3801 Faeth Birch

6. For more information on The Architects’ Journal visit

7. Summaries from each nominator on their shortlisted client:

Leicester Print Workshop

Nominated by Takero Shimazaki Architects for their 2016 RIBA Award-winning Leicester Print Workshop.

The project was led by Leicester Print Workshop (LPW) Director, Lucy Phillips, who had the vision to create a new home for LPW. A vision to make its printmaking processes more visible, make LPW more central to Leicester’s arts community and create more accessible premises with larger flexible spaces for printmaking to flourish. With a well-written briefing document, the strong vision was clear from the outset and architects were invited to pitch. The selected team understood the organisation’s aspirations and printmaking processes. Lucy’s involvement, supported by the Board of Trustees and the Working Members Group, was key to the architecture of the project, including using printmaking as an inspiration for its construction and creative involvement in design decisions and value engineering. Lucy cultivated a participatory culture surrounding the project; design workshops were held with the artists and a network of volunteers and funders were inspired to partake. Lucy made it a project truly connecting within its context and locality, by finding a site through partnerships with City Council departments, applying for Arts Council England funding and grant-making trusts, gaining support from the Mayor’s office and supporting local schools’ arts initiatives. The LPW team started ‘Our Big Move’ campaign, updating their website and tumblr to keep supporters and investors abreast of site and funding progress ( Artists organised pop-up print sales, produced limited edition mugs and prints. On site, there were artists in residence visits and volunteering weekends to help with the final touches. Now in occupation, LPW andTakero Shimazaki Architects are working on a book.

Today the sense of achievement is palpable amongst LPW staff and artists, one of whom said ‘I find myself unduly filled with pride and astonishment as I approach the building’.

Manchester City Council

Nominated by Mecanoo for their 2016 RIBA National Award-winning HOME (in addition to the 2016 RIBA North West Award winners Manchester Central Library by Ryder Architecture and Library Walk Link Building by SimpsonHaugh and Partners).

Manchester City Council is committed to high-quality design, looking for the best and most innovative ideas. They approach procuring buildings as a journey that goes beyond design and construction and considers how the buildings will be used and maintained once they are complete. They are conscious of making sure there are pragmatic solutions that keep running costs down as well as providing aspirational designs. With HOME, they commissioned not just a multi-art form building, but an actual new home to two well-loved cultural institutions, within a new mixed-use, commercial, leisure destination: First Street. In selecting an architect for HOME via a European competition, they looked for a clearly articulated understanding of the brief and what the City wanted to deliver. They chose Mecanoo because, rather than someone imposing their solution on them, they wanted designs to evolve. The cultural development department spent a lot of time getting the brief right. They managed to solve problems along the way, future-proofing the project. Looking at a lot of theatres and their ancillary spaces helped with the look and feel of HOME, achieving great intimacy in the main auditoria. The department also spoke to the people who actually operate the buildings to ask them what they would have done differently. For HOME, understanding and interpreting the end-user’s vision about what they want to achieve was particularly successful, with HOME director and chief executive Dave Moutrey being involved with every design decision. The focus on collaboration maintained the spirit and quality that the team had at the beginning throughout the whole process. HOME delivered what the City set out to achieve, on time and on budget.

University of Oxford Estates

Nominated by WilkinsonEyre for their 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlisted Weston Library.

It was both a challenge and a privilege to be appointed by Oxford University Estates in 2006 to transform this extraordinary building, within such an important historic context, and with such a unique collection of books and manuscripts. Working closely with Sarah Thomas, former Bodley Librarian, Richard Ovenden, Bodley Librarian and Toby Kirtley, Estates Projects Officer has been enlightening and thoroughly rewarding. It was clear from the start that they were looking to find an architect who could respond to their robust and complex brief, while at the same time retaining a strong architectural concept and clarity of vision. The University of Oxford aims to sustain and enhance Oxford’s international reputation. By providing the infrastructure and facilities needed to support world-class students, academics and cutting-edge research programmes it can attract the most gifted students from around the world and compete for the best scholars, tutors and researchers internationally. A key part of recent improvements is the project to refurbish the New Bodleian Library, and create the Weston Library. From the outset the client’s primary objectives were to:

  • Create high quality storage for the Libraries’ valuable special collections.
  • Develop the Libraries’ space for the support of advanced research.
  • Expand public access to the great treasures through new exhibition galleries and other modern facilities.

Led by the dynamic client team, the Weston Library now successfully provides a modernised cultural and intellectual landmark, and boasts a leading research facility based on the University’s unrivalled special collections, to equal the best available anywhere in the world. In February 2015 Jim Eyre, director at WilkinsonEyre, was awarded the Bodley Medal for his part in transforming and protecting the future of the Library. The transformation now provides an exciting resource, and greater access and engagement for all, making Oxford University Estates and The Bodleian Libraries a deserving client candidate for this award.

Westmorland Limited

Nominated by Glenn Howells Architects for the 2016 RIBA National Award winning Gloucester Services by Glenn Howells Architects and AFL Architects.

“Ultimately, we know that if we stand still we start to move backwards. While we celebrate and are inspired by our heritage and roots, we understand that to survive and ultimately to thrive, we must continue to innovate, keeping our ‘family’ and community close.” Sarah Dunning, Westmorland Ltd

In 1972, Cumbrian farmers John and Barbara Dunning set up Westmorland and Tebay Services in partnership with local producers when the new M6 expanded through the Lune Gorge, making it the first and only family run motorway service station operator in the UK.

Gloucester Services builds upon the success of Tebay in its use of local materials, innovation, construction and vernacular design. It exceeds all expectations of what a motorway service area can be. Working with Glenn Howells Architects, Westmorland had a clear brief. They were professional from the outset, allowing the architectural team to come up with the most appropriate design for the site whilst also challenging and testing the design down to the last detail. Over 28 million vehicles a year carry over 40 million people through Gloucestershire via the M5 – previously without any community benefit. Now, through the vision of Westmorland, the M5 has been turned into a community asset rather than a problem bringing pollution, congestion and noise. Gloucester Services champions its locality through its commitment to locally sourced and homemade food. The business works with around 130 local (within 30 miles) and over 70 regional producers. A notable feature of Westmorland is its partnership with the Gloucester Gateway Trust, which works with disadvantaged local communities. Westmorland have successfully employed over 30% of its workforce from the long-term unemployed, those with learning disabilities and mental illness, substance abuse sufferers and ex-offenders. This business charity partnership is not just a charitable donation; it’s an investment in the local community.


Posted on Thursday 1st September 2016

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