Fewer nominations than usual, no big projects and very little that was really distinguished - and weather rather forbidding on a dark November evening. Consequently, could we expect a small attendance and a depressing experience? In fact, it turned out to be one of our most enjoyable of recent Awards events. More members than usual arrived so more chairs had to be brought out to fill the nave at St Peter's. And the whole evening went well thanks to good organisation with cheerful greeters, effective amplification so not a word was missed, an enjoyable variety of food and drink in the second half of the evening, and above all a constantly thought-provoking descriptive commentary by Bob Allen.
Tony Marsden. who co-ordinated the Awards this year, welcomed members and guests and outlined our procedures. He then introduced Bob Allen, one of our Vice-Presidents and a former Chairman of the Society. who once again kept people interested and entertained.
This is a brief summary of some of his comments on the various projects nominated by members for the judges to consider.
Orwell Quay paving scheme: the Dock showed Victorian vision - wonderful opportunity now for new uses. Quality of paving divided the judges. Future planting/sculptures?
'Just for the Day', bridal shop, Norwich Road: former Hare & Hounds pub bought by Coe's who have made great commitment to this street. Re-painted and tidied up. Fascia lettering?
Clarkson Street large extension to back of big residential terrace facing London Road: valuable extra accommodation. Good brickwork. An odd flat roof between the gables.
Northfields, Valley Road: 4 new detached houses with good brickwork and cladding. Not 1930s' pastiche but could they have been more architecturally ambitious?
Travelodge. Duke Street: large but fits well in street scene. Good use of colours. Escape staircase nicely cladded in wood. Big downpipe feeding into a right angle bend!
Park View, Chantry Care Home: different kinds of accommodation needed; reflected in the changes of architectural styles? The grounds pleasingly designed.
Corn Exchange refurbishment: very important Victorian civic building which had been under threat as public venue. Little Waitrose neatly inserted. New doorway from Princes St.
Fire and Rescue Station. Ransomes Europark: fire stations used to express civic pride which was still evident in former Colchester Road premises. This new building purely functional.
UCS Question Mark sculpture: appropriate that universities should probe knowledge. An artistic statement relating also to LED display on chimney at Suffolk College which spells out Q-U-E-S-T-I-O-N-? in successive letters. Pleasing black and white stone materials.
Landmark House: "like an enormous ocean liner" overlooking the A14. Built for Hewlett Packard. now refurbished for SCC and Suffolk Police. Only the new work judged.
Wolsey Art Gallery: early 1930s traditional style; recently refurbished with world-class air conditioning to allow any work of art to be safely exhibited.
Hope Mews, Foxhall Road: an 1882 orphanage extended with some materials re-used. but part of the new building looks like "a collision" with the old. Good design of gates.
Tony Marsden announced the judges' decisions as follows:
A High Commendation for Wolsey Art Gallery:
- Architect, Hilary Brightman
- Builders, Seamans Building
- Clients, IBC
A Commendation for UCS Question Mark:
- Designers, Langland and Bell
- Clients, UCS
A Commendation for Northfields, Valley Road:
- Architects. Wincer Kievenaar
- Clients. Landex Property
Our President, the Mayor of Ipswich. Councillor Mary Blake. presented the winners with their certificates. Chairman John Norman thanked all these recipients. the judges, Bob Allen and the audience - with an hour or so left for us to enjoy our conversations and the refreshments.