RIBA Gold Medal 1999



The field’s oldest existing award, the gold medal that the Royal Institute of British Architects hands yearly to persons linked to architecture, has broken a tradition of over a century by distinguishing the merits of a city, Barcelona. Determined to rectify the institution’s scant attention to the Iberian Peninsula, the jury shuffled the more evident names of Spain and Portugal, but eventually decided that southern Europe’s most brilliant contribution to the international scene was the battery of urban transformations that the Catalan capital had carried out since the Spanish restoration of democracy. Although the announcement mentioned projects undertaken in the context of the 1992 Olympics – such as the Collserola Telecommunications Tower or the Olympic Village – the superlatives fell upon the successive municipal administrations and the more modest interventions that have made Barcelona a model city. With this colletive verdict the RIBA also wished to draw attention to the imminent election of a mayor in a London that had for years been deprived of such a figure.

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