Speaking about North Manchester Sixth Form College and North City Public Library (MANCAT), the judges said:
'The building is self-evidently a result of a mutually respectful relationship between architect and client, with a seamless relationship between the practical requirements of the brief and the architectural intent. Programme, structure, aesthetics and, crucially, sustainability, were clearly fundamental to the evolution of the design.
'The key strategic decision to combine the college with the public library – a very positive move – has effectively created a new building type. The architects have responded by combining the gravitas of a key civic building with the easy informality of an institution designed for student and community use. While the building is both welcoming and fun, it is never patronising. There is a level of sophistication which suggests that it takes its students – and its public – seriously.
'Despite the budget limitations, the building never feels mean. Public spaces feel generous; full-height spaces and overlapping volumes create a highly sculptural composition which is dramatic, highly legible, and a bold response to site. Functional materials have been made to feel special by careful attention to detail. The jury particularly admired the way carpet, paints and furniture had been selected to enhance the depth of colour in the exposed concrete, creating a sense of warmth.
'This is a highly ambitious building which has been carried off with great aplomb.'