The new faculty building at Luigi Bocconi University, Milan, designed by Irish practice Grafton Architects, has become the first World Building of the Year at the inaugural World Architecture Festival Awards (WAF Awards) 2008, at the Centre Convencions International in Barcelona.
The judges praised the architects who, though not from Milan, succeeded in distilling the essence of the city into a confident, contemporary form.
The building includes offices for 1,000 professors, 5 conference halls, lecture theatres, courtyards and concourses, all accessible to the public, with offices for teaching staff suspended above.
The WAF Awards are biggest architectural awards programme in the world, designed to celebrate the work, concerns and aspirations of the international architectural community.
Luigi Bocconi was selected by a super-jury chaired by Robert Stern, Dean of Yale School of Architecture, which included Cecil Balmond, Deputy Chairman of Ove Arup & Partners, Richard Burdett, Centennial Professor in Architecture and Urbanism at the London School of Economics, and Suha Ozkan of the XXI Architecture Centre, Ankara.
They selected the project from a total of 17 finalists, whittled down from a shortlist of 224 projects that were presented during World Architecture Festival between the 22nd and 24th October.
Speaking at the WAF Awards Paul Finch, WAF program director and editor of Architectural Review, said: "Our congratulations go to Grafton Architects. The super-jury had an interesting debate, which could have continued for several days. The winning building has a heavy relationship with the landscape of Milan and has the capacity to make a profound difference to the lives of its users. Grafton Architects have opened up the past of the city with a 21st century attitude."
Judge Cecil Balmond, Arup, admired "the 3D design which took architecture, construction and design, using it to create an urban weave. Its effortless structural solution suspends offices over a subterranean concourse."
Directors of Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara commented: "We are delighted to have won this accolade for what is the biggest project we have ever undertaken. We were trying to make the University a miniature city where public realm connects with the rest of the city and the campus provides a window to Milan. Being in the city for 6 years we have grown to love this project, which has changed our lives. A wonderful client, place and ambition all contribute to good architecture, and we had all three."
World Architecture Festival, organised by Emap is one of the most significant dates in the global architectural calendar. It is the biggest architectural event in the world, which looks beyond borders to celebrate the finest work from the world's greatest architects.