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City Hall wins latest design award

City Hall has added another coveted design title to its roster of accolades, scooping an AJ Architecture Award.

The Riverside Sunderland office was named ‘best civic building’ at this year’s AJ Architecture Awards’ which celebrate the very best in architecture across the UK.

Designed as an early-stage catalyst aiming to unlock the potential of the city’s urban centre, the building was recognised for the way it combines public and private uses, as well as the navigable, open floorplates to facilitate visual connections and encourage collaboration.

One judge said ‘visiting Sunderland, I did not expect to be wowed, but City Hall was simply the best building I’ve seen in years’, while others described the building as ‘open, uplifting, moving and intuitive’, as well as ‘sophisticated but not shouty’. ‘It does everything right,’ they said, praising the level of thought and detail and the collaborative, forward-thinking client.

The award is the latest in a long line of titles named the best Corporate Workplace at the British Council for Offices (BCO) Awards, one of the most coveted prizes for commercial office space.  It was also named overall winner – Best of the Best – the pinnacle of achievement for office developments.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is another brilliant award for a building that has attracted such praise and recognition since it opened last year.

“Sunderland deserves the best – our residents deserve it.  And that’s what City Hall is repeatedly being recognised as.”

City Hall was designed by FaulknerBrowns and constructed by Sunderland firm Bowmer + Kirkland, ploughing millions of pounds into the local economy.  The building is one of a number of large-scale development projects progressing in the city centre, part of an ambitious vision to double the residential population in the city centre and increase employment by 50 per cent and fuelled by the backing of Legal & General.

The council is one of a number of organisations operating out of the building, with DWP, Gentoo and Sunderland College also based out of City Hall.  A range of people-focused services started operating there last year, including the council’s Customer Service Centre, with public-access computers available to enable residents to make benefits applications and access other online services from the building’s open foyer.  The venue has also started to host weddings, as well as a range of other public and community events.

The council vacated the former Civic Centre, paving the way for its demolition later this month, with plans afoot for the creation of a new residential community on the edge of the city centre.

To stay up to date with progress at City Hall and other Riverside Sunderland developments, visit or follow @RiversideSund on social media.