St Albans Museum + Gallery wins design award

Cllr Brewster, centre, accepts the award with the project team; the spade-shaped trophy. Picture: SA

Cllr Brewster, centre, accepts the award with the project team; the spade-shaped trophy. Picture: SADC - Credit: Archant

The restoration of a 19th century St Albans landmark has won a top design award.

St Albans Museum + Gallery was given the Retrofit for the Future award by the Hertfordshire Building Futures Awards 2018 at Knebworth House on October 4.

The £7.75million St Albans district council (SADC) refurbishment was also commended in the Project of the Year category.

Commissioned architects John McAslan + Partners designed the transformed Georgian Grade II* listed building, which used to be the St Albans Town Hall.

They got a spade-shaped trophy designed by Anne Tilby.

Judges said: “Superb attention to detail has resulted in the sensitive refurbishment of this important historic building.

“The vision and energy of a highly motivated group of individuals and an outstanding contractor has enabled the building to be resurrected as a major community asset which the city and residents of St Albans can, justifiably, be very proud.”

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St Albans Cathedral also received the Special Conservation Award for Project of the Year at the awards.

SADC portfolio holder for commercial and development, Julian Daly, said the museum was one of the boldest and most challenging projects the council has undertaken.

He said: “It is very satisfying that the efforts of everyone involved have been recognised by this award. The judges could see that a great deal of thought and care went into the creation of a highly-modern museum and gallery that retains the essential character of the building.”

The Hertfordshire Building Futures, a partnership of nine local authorities in the county, have held an awards ceremony every other year since 2009.

Cllr Annie Brewster, portfolio holder for sport and culture, said it is a tremendous honour: “It is much harder to retrofit a 19th century building with modern sustainable and energy saving elements than start from scratch, particularly as we wanted to retain and enhance its wonderful historic features.

“The judges seemed very impressed with the hand-dug, environmentally-controlled basement gallery, the new glazed first floor links, the new underfloor heating, the LED lighting throughout and the sensitive addition of secondary glazing.”

Just last month, developers Willmott Dixon were given the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for the museum and other community projects.