London's Olympic Stadium Vies For Top Architectural Award (PICTURES)

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This summer it was the scene of many of Team GB's gold medals, and now the Olympic Stadium itself could claim a gong.

The arena is one of the frontrunners to win the UK's most prestigious architecture prize, to be awarded on Saturday.

The 80,000-capacity stadium, by Populous, is one of six new buildings to be shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects' (Riba) Stirling Prize.

The Stirling Prize is in its 17th year and celebrates the best of new British architecture.

The winner of the £20,000 prize will be announced at a ceremony on Saturday night in Manchester.

olympic stadium

The Olympic Stadium, by Populous, is a strong contender for the award

Announcing their shortlist just before the Games started in July, judges described the Olympic Stadium as having "a spirit of fun".

"They have designed a space to create an amazing atmosphere, where every seat has a great view," they added.

David Chipperfield Architects, which designed the Hepworth Wakefield gallery in Yorkshire, is also a strong contender for the award.

The company is the only previous Riba Stirling Prize winner on this year's shortlist.

In 2007 it scooped the award for the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, Germany.

Also nominated is OMA's Maggie's Centre at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow, which was described as "thoughtful and intimate" by the judging panel.

Rem Koolhaas, who founded OMA, had known Maggie Keswick Jencks, after whom the Maggie's Centres are named, since the 1960s.

Lily Jencks, Maggie's daughter, was the landscape designer on the project.

The doughnut-shaped building is set in the old hospital car park, which has now been landscaped into a woodland.

hepworth wakefield

Chipperfield's Hepworth Wakefield gallery is considered a favourite

It is one of two nominations for OMA, whose new Rothschild's Bank building at New Court in London designed with Allies and Morrison, was also shortlisted.

The bank has been there since 1809 and is now part of a conservation area.

Judges praised an "imaginative solution to a very constrained site".

The building, which also houses the Rothschild art collection, was also praised for its "synthesis between an office and a museum".

Riba said heritage and education were strong themes in this year's shortlist, with the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich housing Charles Darwin's collection and the Lyric Theatre in Belfast making the shortlist, along with New Court and Hepworth Wakefield.

The shortlisting of the new Lyric Theatre, by Dublin-based O'Donnell + Tuomey, marks the fourth time the practice has been nominated for the prize.

Last year its An Gaelaras cultural centre in Derry was shortlisted.

The distinctive red Belfast brick echoes the existing south Belfast residential landscape.

The panel said the auditorium has a "special, sculptural interior and incredible acoustics".

zaha hadid

Last year's winner, Zaha Hadid, also built the aquatic center at the Olympic Park

The Sainsbury Laboratory, by Stanton Williams, is a "stimulating working environment" to attract world-class scientists, the judges said.

It was praised for its energy efficiency and green approach. Rainwater is collected from the roof and stored in two huge tanks which irrigate the garden's glasshouse and plant chambers.

The judging panel includes Sir Mark Jones, Master of St Cross College Oxford and former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, architects Joanna van Heyningen and Hilde Daem and designer Naomi Cleaver.

The panel is chaired by former Royal Academy president Sir Nicholas Grimshaw.

Last year's winner was Zaha Hadid for designing Evelyn Grace Academy, a cutting-edge new secondary school in Herne Hill, south London,

Hadid also won the award for Rome's Maxxi Museum of 21st Century Art in 2010.

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