St Bronagh’s Primary School named Northern Ireland’s Building of the Year

The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) has awarded the Liam McCormick Prize for Northern Ireland’s Building of the Year to St. Bronagh’s Primary School in Rostrevor by d-on architects.

The school joins an illustrious list of buildings including the Giants Causeway Visitors Centre and the Lyric Theatre which have previously won the prestigious award named after one of Ireland’s greatest 20th century architects. The building was also awarded the RSUA Sustainability Award and d-on’s Paul McMahon was named Project Architect of the Year.

Located near Ballygowan, the County Down Barn by Micah T Jones has been named as Northern Ireland’s House of the Year. Other winning buildings at the RSUA Design Awards 2018 included the transformative Junction Community Peace Building in Dungannon by Hall Black Douglas, the sensitive overhaul of the Main Site Tower at Queen’s University Belfast by TODD Architects and a fine example of restoration by RMI Architects at the Weaving Works, Belfast.

Click here to view a summary of the winning projects and judges comments.

Ciarán Fox, RSUA Director said, “The RSUA Design Awards primary purpose is to promote excellence in the design of our built environment with the view to making Northern Ireland a better place for everyone. Our buildings have an enormous impact on how we live and this year’s awards demonstrate wonderfully how good design can improve learning, health, community relations and economic development. We also see architects rising to the challenges of catering for an ageing population.”

“Increasingly clients in Northern Ireland are seeking out ways to improve design quality. There is a growing awareness that by investing a bit more upfront the client benefits significantly over the course of the project but even more so over the life of the building. Most public sector clients don’t want to skimp on design. They are keen to find ways to avoid a race to the bottom on fees and we are working closely with them on how best to achieve that.”

“The greatest threat facing Northern Ireland’s built environment now is the absence of devolved government for over a year. The lack of Ministers to make decisions on which new construction projects to progress to design stage is quickly reaching a crisis point. Not only will badly needed investment be delayed but many jobs in the construction industry could be at risk.”

The RSUA Design Awards ceremony took place at the Whitla Hall, Belfast. The building was designed by local architect John McGeagh along with Edward Maufe ofLondonand won a RIBA Architecture Medal in 1950.

The RSUA Design Awards 2018 judges were:

  • RSUA appointed chair (architect from NI) – Michael Doherty, Doherty Architects
  • RIBA appointed judge (architect from GB) – Greg Penoyre, Penoyre & Prasad
  • RSUA appointed lay judge – Wendy Austin, Broadcaster (not in attendance for shortlisting)
  • RSUA appointed judge (architect from RoI) – Carole Pollard, Immediate Past President of RIAI
  • RSUA appointed judge (architect from NI) – Geoff Sloan

Starting from 2018 the RSUA Design Awards will be run annually rather than every second year. RSUA has also agreed a partnership with RIBA so that RSUA Awards will align with the RIBA Northern Ireland Awards. Winning an RSUA Award is now the first step to being considered for a UK-wide RIBA Award.

The shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize, for the new best building of the year across the UK, will be drawn from the RIBA National Award-winning buildings in July and the Stirling Prize winner will be announced in October.

 Winners of RSUA Design Award 2018

Castle Tower School


BallymenaIsherwood + Ellis
Corriewood Private Clinic Care Home

Special prize:

  • Residential Development of the Year







McGurk Architects





County Down Barn

Special prizes:

  • House of the Year
  • Small Project of the Year






Micah T Jones Architect




Main Site Tower and Peter Froggatt Centre, QUB




TODD Architects


Maison Wedge


KillinchyBGA Architects Ltd
Newry Leisure Centre – Phase 2




Kennedy FitzGerald Architects LLP


no 37




FAMILY architects designers makers


Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex

Special prize:

  • Integration of Art Award






TODD Architects with Hall Black Douglas







ARdMackel Architects


St Bronagh’s Primary School

Special prizes:

  • Liam McCormick Prize of the Building of the Year
  • Project Architect of the Year (Paul McMahon)
  • Sustainability Award









d-on architects







The Junction, Community Peace Building

Special prizes:

  • Client of the Year
  • Living Places Award







Hall Black Douglas





The Weaving Works

Special prize:

  • Conservation Award





RMI Architects



*Ballymena Health and Care Centre




Keppie Design with Hoskins Architects


*Fallahogey StudioKilreaMcGarry Moon

 * All winners of an RSUA Design Award 2018 also win a RIBA Northern Ireland Award 2018 other than these two projects which won a RIBA Northern Ireland Award in 2017 before the introduction of the alignment between the RSUA and RIBA awards. See more here:

Fallahogey Studio

Ballymena Health and Care Centre

A range of images and the full judges citations can be downloaded here