HIC wins Best Modern Building in Harrogate contest

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A building once widely regarded as a ‘white elephant’, has won the Best Modern Building in Harrogate competition.

Harrogate International Centre, still the subject of controversy over its financial future 30 years after it opened, was awarded the accolade by leading architectural author and Guardian regular Owen Hatherley during a visit to Harrogate International Festival Fringe.

Hatherley, whose latest book A New Kind of Bleak, was published this week on Verso, said the Harrogate International Centre auditorium, originally opened in 1982, was the boldest, most coherent statement of modern architecture in Harrogate.

Having been taken on a tour of the shortlisted buildings, Hatherley had already rejected one controversial nomination, the ‘golf balls’ at Menwith Hill, when Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases coordinator Lindis Percy arrived at the gallery to unfurl a huge banner and lodge a complaint.

Graham Chalmers of the Harrogate Advertiser, who is programme coordinator for the Harrogate International Festival Fringe, said the protest hadn’t ruined what was a challenging but successful event.

“We explained to her that Owen had already said he could not possibly vote for a US base, offered her a drink and everything was fine.”

The announcement of the winner coincided with an associated public exhibition at 108 Fine Art called Past Dreams of the Future.

Curated by Graham Chalmers , the show highlights past modernist plans for radical change in Harrogate which failed to get past the planning