The Stirling Prize shortlist for the top British Architecture Award is, as usual, characterised by razzmatazz, gloss, and glitter. It seems to be Richard Rogers' year now with his impressive Barajas Airport, Madrid, entered simultaneously with his new building for the Welsh Assembly.
Hopefully this is more in line with the budget than last year's prizewinner, the building for the Scottish Assembly, which had to shrug off a 400 million overspend, won to some consternation and political gerrymandering. But what emerged then was the high quality of the work of Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-born British architect. This year, with the superb Phaeno Centre at Wolfsburg, the Volkswagen headquarters, she could emerge as favourite- the building has already been acclaimed by many as a 'masterwork'. There are other runners-up: David Adjaye's 'Idea Store, a Library for Whitechapel, which reveals his consummate skill in organising internal spaces. On an even smaller scale, the Brick House Extension by Caruso St John, springs both from baroque and from modernist antecedents. Surprisingly, there is no submission from Norman Foster's practice.