UCL News


Two UCL buildings honoured with prestigious RIBA London Awards

2 September 2021

UCL’s Student Centre and the Zayed Centre for Research have both been named as winners at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) London Awards 2021.

RIBA Awards 2021

The cutting-edge buildings were amongst 46 winners from the capital and will now be put forward for consideration for the prestigious Stirling Prize – the award for the “Best Building in the UK”.

Both the Student Centre and the Zayed Centre for Research officially opened in 2019. However, the RIBA Awards were cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

UCL President & Provost, Dr Michael Spence, said: “It is a fabulous achievement that two of UCL’s newest buildings in the heart of London have been named as winners of the RIBA London Awards 2021. 

“At UCL we are committed to enhancing the environment of all our students and staff and developing dynamic and exciting workspaces, will help achieve our mission to tackle the world’s biggest challenges.”

The new state-of-the-art Student Centre opened its doors on 18th February 2019 and is at the heart of UCL’s Bloomsbury campus.

The £67.4 million multi-purpose building provides 1,000 new study spaces, over eight levels, for UCL’s student community and has been designed to encourage new ways of collaborative and research-based learning.

The building was designed by Nicholas Hare Architects and built by Mace, and is centred around a spectacular atrium. It also features artwork by Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread, a landscaped courtyard, a café and rooftop terrace with views across London.

The Student Centre is a flagship for sustainability having achieved BREEAM ‘Outstanding’, which is the highest measure of a building’s environmental, social and economic impact, thanks to features such as electric solar panels on the roof, ground source heating/ cooling and highly efficient building fabric and massing which helps to regulate temperature and minimise energy use.

Meanwhile the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children (ZCR) opened in October 2019 and is jointly run by UCL and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to bring together pioneering research and clinical care under one roof.

The concept is a world first for paediatric medicine and caters for both UK and international patients – caring for over 13,300 children in its first year alone.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, scientists and specialist facilities from the ZCR were also mobilised to Covid-19 research and activity.

The Zayed Centre for research was funded by a £60 million gift from Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the wife of the late Sheik Zayed bin Sultan AI Nahyan, founding father of the United Arab Emirates, in 2014.

Kevin Argent, Director of Estates Development at UCL, said: “Both the Student Centre and Zayed Centre for Research are distinct and ambitious in their design.

“The Student Centre alone has now won 12 industry awards, for design, sustainability and processes adopted in delivery. Being named a winner at the RIBA London Awards is further testament to the amazing work of UCL’s Estates team, design teams and contractors, supporting UCL’s world-class aspirations and commitment to excellence and innovation”

The RIBA London awards are the last of the UK regions to take place for 2021. Judges will now consider all regional winners to select six to be shortlisted for the Stirling Prize, which will be announced in October.



  • The Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children, Credit Stanton Williams, Photography: Hufton + Crow
  • UCL Student Centre, Credit Nicholas Hare Architects (c) Alan Williams Photography