It was Crown Estate’s renewal of Regent Street that turned the judges’ heads this year, with its contemporary neo-baroque design of AirW1

Building Awards 2012 Building Magazine Project of the year

Crown Estate

Conservation has rarely looked as radical and invasive as it does on AirW1. The latest phase of the Crown Estate’s comprehensive renewal of Regent Street involves the commercial redevelopment of the former Regent Palace Hotel behind John Nash’s famous Quadrant. The original facades at each corner of the triangular-shaped block have been retained to form distinctive classical prows, each one dripping with gregarious and lovingly-restored neo-baroque detailing and surrounded by newly pedestrianised public spaces. A contemporary block fills the void between the prows, externally faced in faience and encrusted with a swerving full-height atrium at its centre. A centralised underground plant hub not only serves the building but the three associated developments around it and includes the only hydrogen fuel cell of its kind in the UK.

Runners up

British Film Institute Master Film Store, Warwickshire

Not much of Warwickshire’s architecture incorporates Nasa technology, but the BFI’s film storage facility is an exception. Edward Cullinan Architects’ building combines high tech specifications with streamlined elevations.

The Gateway Building, Loughborough

The external walls of the University of Nottingham’s biosciences faculty designed by Make are formed by 14m-high timber cassettes filled with compacted straw. This provides insulation and fire-protection properties.

Heron Tower, London

Britain’s second tallest completed building, built by Skanska, has a radical internal arrangement with the core pushed from the conventional centre of the tower
to its southern facade to provide solar shade and optimise lettable area.

Manchester Metropolitan University Business School & Student Hub, Manchester

This building by Feilden Clegg Bradley cuts a crystalline figure. The wedge-shaped block is wrapped in a glass envelope trimmed with glass fins refracting the light.

New Court, London

A contemporary building of substantial height and bulk has been subtly woven into the Bank conservation area by Lend Lease. The ground floor foyer areas are awash with travertine and the glazed sky lobby offers spectacular City panoramas.

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff

Squeezed between a Cardiff highway and rolling parklands, a double-aspect foyer offers plunging views of city and park while the entire building - designed by BFLS - is crowned by a cantilevered steel canopy.

Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge

Stanton Williams’ Sainsbury Laboratory succeeds in bringing a bit of glamour to science. At the rear the solidity of the building envelope gives way to a profile of glazed openings and horizontal overhangs. Inside a network of bridges spans the double-height foyer.