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Monday28 July 2014

Why architects need to revel in award glory

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Awards like the Stirling Prize can be a huge vote of confidence in your practice

On Saturday night, the great and good will assemble in Manchester for the RIBA Stirling Prize.

The Stirling is the most important award on the UK architectural calendar and being shortlisted represents a significant milestone in the lives of the architects. No doubt the final choice will be hotly debated, but the benefits for the nominees are undeniable.

Publicly, nearly all architects will feign relaxed indifference to winning an award — yet the growth of awards across the design and architecture sectors tells an entirely different story. This is not only fuelled by the changing business models of publishing groups, but also by the unspoken desire of architects for formal recognition.

So do awards matter and why should you bother investing the necessary time and money?

In terms of large practices, the debate is mostly over, they understand the effect winning awards has on staff morale and overall marketing, and often have dedicated teams to prepare and monitor entries.

But what about small practices? The time and effort required is onerous and if you don’t get shortlisted, the efforts seem counterproductive.

Don’t lose heart. Be more selective about what you enter. Look at the past winners — do you agree with past awards or do the winners seem to be coincident with advertising spend? Are the judges credible? Is the award prestigious? Will you feel proud to win it or slightly non-plussed?

No matter what anyone says, winning an award is great. It’s a tangible symbol of the acceptance of your work and will lead to an increase in the confidence of the practice.

Let’s face it, getting a project built and completed is tough enough. The end result is often a compromise that has been put through the mill by clients, planners and value engineers, but if the final product is still deemed worthy of an award, then that is a huge vote of confidence in you and your team.

The opportunities to “celebrate” your work are few and far between so you should cling to every moment of glory you can get.

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