The Royal Academy of Music’s new flagship performance spaces – The Susie Sainsbury Theatre and The Angela Burgess Recital Hall – have this week won two prestigious industry awards: the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) London Building of the Year and the RICS Tourism & Leisure Award.

The new spaces, designed by architect Ian Ritchie, shared the top place at this week’s RIBA London Awards, held at RIBA’s headquarters, with the Victoria & Albert Museum Exhibition Road Quarter and together beating 59 other London-based architectural projects. The RIBA London judges commented that the new Susie Sainsbury Theatre and Angela Burgess Recital Hall ‘is a very accomplished piece of architecture, which resolves exceptionally complex technical challenges, with elegance, wit and aplomb’.

Held at The Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, on May 16, the annual RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Awards celebrate inspirational initiatives in the city’s land, property and construction sectors across eight categories. The judges said that the Academy’s new facilities ‘underscores the importance of cultural heritage to UK tourism […] the design team of Ian Ritchie Architects, Equals Consulting and Arup has delivered world class acoustics for a broader range of musical performances in the theatre. The new Recital Hall is an innovative venue for concerts, masterclasses and performances.’

The Academy’s Principal, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood CBE, says: ‘These two awards are testament to an extraordinary collaboration between the architect, Ian Ritchie, the staff and students of the Royal Academy of Music and our exceptional supporters. Every world-class institution needs top facilities to match the quality of its teaching; these major awards acknowledge the Academy’s dedication and commitment to offering talented young musicians the very best. The Susie Sainsbury Theatre and The Angela Burgess Recital Hall brilliantly harmonise the old and new environment and with our striking entrance, the Academy has never felt more accessible or inviting as a place to study or to visit.’

The newly-transformed facilities include the 309-seat Susie Sainsbury Theatre and the new 100-seat rooftop Angela Burgess Recital Hall, as well as 14 refurbished practice and dressing rooms, five new percussion studios, a large refurbished jazz room and a new control suite for the Academy’s audiovisual Recordings Department. The project marks one of the most significant building and renovation projects in the Academy’s near-200-year history.

The project is now considered for the RIBA National Awards which is announced in July, and the RIBA Stirling Prize, one of the foremost prizes for excellence in architecture.


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