Oct 10 2008 by Alistair Houghton, Liverpool Daily Post
THE Bluecoat has been named Building of the Year at Liverpool?s first architectural Oscars.
The cultural centre, which opened in March after a ?12.5m refurbishment, was the overall winner at the Liverpool Architectural Society?s awards at St George?s Hall last night.
Other winners included Dave King of ShedKM, who was honoured for his lifetime contribution to Liverpool architecture.
The commercial category was won by the bridge between the Liver St car park and John Lewis in the new Liverpool One development. It was designed by Wilkinson Eyre.
Society president Mushtaq Saleri said the awards had been created to honour the great modern buildings erected in the city in recent years.
He said: ?It?s been a superb response. We didn?t know, being the inaugural year, how it would be received, but it was better than we expected.
?Given the current uncertain-ty, particularly in construction, it was good to get such great support for the event. Hopefully, we can build something for the future to reward not just the architects but also the clients who had the foresight to engage great architects.?
Award judges included artist Ben Johnson, who painted the Liverpool Cityscape.
Fellow judge Kieran Long, editor of the Architects? Journal, said he was excited to have been asked to judge the awards in Capital of Culture year.
He said: ?There?s definitely world-class contemporary architecture in Liverpool.
?Liverpool is a city of great public buildings and has some great contemporary architecture.
?For me, the Bluecoat already has the profile of a world-class piece of architecture.
?What?s interesting is they?ve treated the historic fabric extremely well and with due care, but it?s also absolutely contemporary and modern. The join between the old building and the new is one of the most special moments of contemporary architecture in Britain.?
An estimated 10,000 people attended a weekend-long celebration to mark the reopening of Liverpool?s Bluecoat centre for contemporary art on March 15.
Formerly a school, the Grade I listed building dates back to 1717. It received a ?3.6m grant from Arts Council England?s capital programme, almost ?3m from the European Objective One programme, just over ?2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and an investment of ?2.5m from the North West Development Agency.
At the heart of the refurbishment was the development of a wing that was previously unused and once destroyed by fire in World War II.
The new wing comprises four new galleries and a 200-seat performance space, 13 new artist studios and 13 creative industry studios, six retail shops, the espresso and restaurant-bar.
Disaster was narrowly averted when a fire broke out in the Bluecoat kitchen in May, but the arts centre reopened just 10 days after the fire.