St Nicholas Church Centre, 11 November
The front rows were occupied by more invited guests than usual, all waiting to receive some level of award from the Society. And with twenty nominated buildings and projects to be described before the Awards could be announced, there was an atmosphere of lively chatter and expectation.
But first we were silenced by Jack Chapman's tribute from the Society to James Hehir, the Borough Council's Chief Executive, who had suddenly died on the previous day. It was very fitting that amongst the photographs of James on the screen was one showing his receiving an honorary degree at UCS, the founding of the university being one of the many achievements which he helped greatly to promote, and this perhaps his favourite.
Jack then introduced Bob Allen as our commentator of the evening who would speak on behalf of the Society's five anonymous judges. Although no longer a committee member, Bob still follows the activities of the Society keenly. He was our second chairman after Peter Underwood and the first chairman in post when the Awards scheme began. He entertained us with some intriguing and amusing comments as well as a considered report on the judges' decisions. These are just a selection of comments made, in the order in which the nominations were presented.
• Paving scheme, Upper Brook St - a welcome improvement, excessive signing, 'fascinating' lights.
• Paving scheme, Northgate St - good use of stone, nice area near library, enormous 'turn left' arrow.
• Alexander House, St Matthew's St, conversion for student accommodation - better than it was but not as good as its original handsome self.
• Arlingtons, Museum St - restaurant conversion is a welcome re-use of the town's original museum.
• Isaacs, Neptune Quay - important range of merchant's property cleverly adapted as bars, etc.
• 8 Fonnereau Rd, former Tower Vicarage - brickwork and windows refurbished, garden wall uneven.
• Suffolk New College - effective colour and articulation of each storey, impressive atrium, but disabled parking is right in front of main entrance.
• Gainsborough library, Clapgate Lane/Mildmay Rd - good to see an unashamedly modern building but visually a 'curate's egg'.
• 40 Princes St - new office building, imaginative use of materials but odd break in facade.
• Sir Bobby Robson Bridge -nice detailing, 'skylon' makes bold statement, good for neglected area.
• The Mill, Key St - valuable development but unfinished, Dance East a great asset.
• Obolensky Statue, Cromwell Sq - good to have more public art, good materials, but is it in best place?
• Ipswich School, Ivry St, new entrance and classroom - good understated design but lacks quality of other new buildings at School.
• Corn Exchange - restoration of exterior, ironwork replaced, stonework cleaned ,Victorian colours.
• Bond St, new apartments - significant addition to street but small superficial details like measles!
• Ramada Encore hotel, Ranelagh Rd - its mass and cedar cladding could be seen anywhere in UK.
• Bramford Rd/Adair Rd - apartment block with protruding pipes, very inferior to the pub it replaced.
• Britannia Rd/Freehold Rd - apartment block with odd fenestration and poorly pointed brickwork.
• 32A Alan Rd, new detached house - ordinary solution to a vacant plot.
The Mayor, Councillor David Goldsmith, the Society's President, presented the following Awards. It became clear that Bob Allen had created a nice sense of drama by previously withholding the judges' praise for the two schemes which won Awards of Distinction!
Award of Distinction for the restoration and refurbishment at Arlingtons, Museum Street.
Client/owners: K and E Ambler
Design: Stewart Brown Contractor: Elliston, Steady & Hawes (Building Ltd)
Award of Distinction for the restoration, refurbishment and conversion of Isaacs, Wherry Quay.
Client/owner: Aidan Coughlan
Design: Nicholas Jacob, Architects Contractor: Chapman & Pleasance
High Commendation for Suffolk New College, new building, Rope Walk
Client: Suffolk New College
Design: Sheppard Robson Contractor: Morgan Ashurst plc
Commendation for Corn Exchange restoration, refurbishment of exterior
Client: Ipswich Borough Council
Design: NPS South East Ltd Contractor: Noble & Taylor (Ongar) Ltd
Commendation for Sir Bobby Robson Bridge, new pedestrian river bridge
Client: Fairview New Homes Ltd
Design: Train & Kemp Consulting Engineers Contractor: Tamdown Group Ltd