Aberdeen Art Gallery takes Andrew Doolan award for building of the year

The Aberdeen Art Gallery has been announced as the winner of the 2021 RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award.

Aberdeen Art Gallery takes Andrew Doolan award for building of the year

© Dapple Photography

The flagship cultural venue for Aberdeen City Council has been refurbished and extended by Hoskins Architects to become one of Scotland’s leading cultural institutions, thereby demonstrating how contemporary architecture, historic building conservation and environmental responsibility can go hand in hand, the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) said.

Through a decade-long redevelopment project, Hoskins Architects created new exhibition and education spaces, thoroughly upgraded the building’s services and environmental performance, and improved the gallery’s art handling, storage, back of house and study facilities. The special character and grandeur of the 19th century category A listed building has been preserved, and a dramatic copper-clad roof is among a series of striking contemporary interventions that have revitalised the gallery and its relationship with the city. Thanks to Hoskins Architects and their work with the team at Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeen Art Gallery, the building is now more welcoming, more sustainable, and more accessible.

The annual Doolan Award is assessed by an expert jury who look at each project’s architectural integrity, usability and context, delivery and execution, and sustainability. All types of building are eligible for the award, which is named in memory of its founder and patron, the architect/developer Andy Doolan, who died in 2004.

The architects of the winning building receive a £10,000 cash prize, making the Doolan Award one of the most significant architecture awards in the world. The award would not exist without Andy Doolan’s extraordinary generosity and vision, and his family have kindly continued their support. The Scottish Government also generously supports the award.

Aberdeen Art Gallery takes Andrew Doolan award for building of the year

© Dapple Photography

RIAS president Christina Gaiger PRIAS said: “Aberdeen Art Gallery is an outstanding building and a highly deserving winner of the 2021 Doolan Award. Hoskins Architects have brought a piece of Scottish heritage into the 21st century with humility, skill and sensitivity. In the face of the climate emergency, how we upgrade, respect and adapt our existing building stock is absolutely crucial. In Aberdeen Art Gallery we have an outstanding example of how a public building, thanks to the talent of Hoskins Architects and far-sighted clients Aberdeen City Council, exemplifies the smart re-use of an existing building, as part of a collective regenerative response to climate change.”

Chris Coleman-Smith, director at Hoskins Architects, said: “The Doolan Award is the most important architectural prize in Scotland and we are thrilled that Aberdeen Art Gallery has been recognised as the best building in 2021. The team has done an exceptional job of subtly and sensitively restoring original features of the 19th century building and improving fabric performance, alongside confident alteration and the bold addition of new elements that enhance the visitor experience, knitting together a thread of careful conservation and the requirements of a world class, 21st century gallery.

“We’re privileged to have a talented team and exceptional client in Aberdeen City Council. This special award is testament to the effort and commitment from the many people involved in the design and delivery of this fantastic project throughout the years.”

Speaking on behalf of the Doolan family, Andrew Doolan’s nephew Ross Findlay said: “Before her passing in 2020, Andrew’s mother Margaret Doolan held her son’s legacy and achievements in high esteem. She took great pleasure in continuing his vision and support of the RIAS. As such, our family is proud to help to promote Scottish architecture at home and abroad and celebrate the creativity, innovation and ingenuity this breeds - exactly the vision that Andrew had when he set out his plans for this award over 20 years ago.

“This year presented a very competitive list of finalists so we are happy to congratulate Hoskins Architects and the Aberdeen Art Gallery on their deserving win.

“Having sponsored this event since 2004, we have seen the award go to many different buildings designed for different purposes and it is great to celebrate a civic building being given a new lease of life that will serve the public for future generations - a very fitting project for the intended ethos of the award.”

Culture minister Jenny Gilruth added: “I’m delighted that Hoskins Architects’ transformation of Aberdeen Art Gallery has won the prestigious 2021 RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award. This outstanding project has upgraded the building to create wonderful new exhibition and education spaces for the gallery.

“The Scottish Government is pleased to jointly sponsor the RIAS Andrew Doolan Award with the Doolan family and my congratulations go to all involved at Aberdeen Art Gallery and Hoskins Architects.”

Aberdeen Art Gallery takes Andrew Doolan award for building of the year

The jury for the 2021 RIAS Awards comprised Professor Robin Webster OBE (past president of the RIAS and jury chair), Brian McGinlay (McGinlay Bell Architects), Ann Allen (chair, Architecture and Design Scotland and CEO, Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors. The jury were assisted by former RIAS trustees Catriona Hill (Oberlanders/CH Architecture) and Neil Ferguson (Neil Ferguson Chartered Architect) with visits to the more rural projects.

Unveiled in September, the shortlist for the 2021 Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award was:

  • Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen by Hoskins Architects
  • Bayes Centre, Edinburgh by Bennetts Associates
  • The Egg Shed, Ardrishaig by Oliver Chapman Architects
  • The Hill House Box, Helensburgh by Carmody Groarke
  • Sportscotland National Sports Training Centre Inverclyde by Reiach and Hall Architects

Previous winners of the Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award include:

  • 2019 – The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience, Craigellachie by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
  • 2018 – Nucleus, The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Caithness Archive, Caithness by Reiach and Hall Architects
  • 2017 – Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries, Dunfermline by Richard Murphy Architects
  • 2016 – Saunders Centre, Science & Technology Building, Glasgow by Page\Park Architects
  • 2015 – West Burn Lane, St Andrews by Sutherland Hussey Harris
  • 2014 – Advocate’s Close, Edinburgh by Morgan McDonnell Architecture Ltd
  • 2013 – WASPS South Block, Glasgow by NORD Architecture
  • 2012 – Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre, Glasgow by OMA
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