New Museum + Gallery Wins Top Award

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News release: 11 October 2018

The spectacular new St Albans Museum + Gallery has won a top design award with judges praising the project leaders’ “vision and energy”.

Museum autumn 2018
The £7.75 million building came top in the Retrofit for the Future category at the Hertfordshire Building Futures Awards 2018. It was also highly commended in the Project of the Year category.

Members of the development team received the trophy at a glittering ceremony last  Thursday night at Knebworth House, near Stevenage.

The new museum is located at the City’s historic Courthouse and Town Hall, in St Peter’s Street, a Georgian Grade 11* listed building that was constructed in 1831.  It was opened this summer.

St Albans City and District Council developed the building and commissioned architects John McAslan & Partners to produce the designs. The building contractor was Hertfordshire-based Wilmott Dixon.

The judges said the “rescue and restoration of this landmark building has been carried out impressively, cleverly increasing the useable space while retaining the original features.”

They added: “Superb attention to detail has resulted in the sensitive refurbishment of this important historic building.

“The vision and energy of a highly motivated group of individuals and an outstanding contractor has enabled the building to be resurrected as a major community asset which the City and residents of St Albans can, justifiably, be very proud.”

Hertfordshire Building Futures is a partnership of nine local authorities in the County and it has held an awards contest every other year since 2009.

Councillor Julian Daly, Portfolio Holder for Commercial and Development, said: “The conversion of the Town Hall into a new museum and gallery is one of the boldest and most challenging projects ever undertaken by the Council.

“It is very satisfying that the efforts of everyone involved have been recognised by this award. The judges could see that a great deal of thought and care went into the creation of a highly-modern museum and gallery that retains the essential character of the building.”

Councillor Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport and Culture, said: “It was a tremendous honour to receive this prestigious award for the project’s restoration work and to have the challenges we faced acknowledged. It is much harder to retrofit a 19th century building with modern sustainable and energy saving elements than start from scratch, particularly as we wanted to retain and enhance its wonderful historic features.

"The judges seemed very impressed with the hand-dug, environmentally-controlled basement gallery, the new glazed first floor links, the new underfloor heating, the LED lighting throughout and the sensitive addition of secondary glazing.

"We were delighted to receive a giant elaborate spade shaped trophy designed by artist Anne Tilby who has exhibited in the Hayward Gallery and featured in Vogue.  We will find a fitting home for it in the museum and gallery.”

For more information about the St Albans Museum + Gallery, including opening hours and details of the regularly changing exhibitions, please see:

For more information about Hertfordshire Building Futures, please see:

Museum Award 2018
Picture: Cllr Brewster, third from right, accepts the award with the project team.

Councillor contact:
Councillor Julian Daly, Commercial and Development Portfolio Holder for St Albans City and District Council, Email:; Mob: 07775 657200.

Councillor Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport and Culture for St Albans City and District Council. Email:; Tel: 01438 832255 

Contact for the media: 
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City & District Council, Tel: 01727 296130, E-mail:

Hertfordshire Building Futures is a partnership of nine Hertfordshire local authorities, led by Hertfordshire County Council, with stakeholder input and engagement.

The Building Futures initiative aims to promote high quality sustainable development in the County and seeks to do this by providing three main resources:

1. The Sustainable Design Toolkit
2. The Hertfordshire Design Review Panel
3. The Building Futures Awards

The Sustainable Design Toolkit is an online resource to aid decision making on sustainable design and construction at the initial concept, pre-application and planning application stages of a development.  It uses an interactive townscape, open questions and best practice guidance, to provide a visual and engaging experience for the user.

The Hertfordshire Design Review Panel offers design review and enabling services and provides expert, independent and impartial design advice on the quality and sustainability of development proposals coming forward within Hertfordshire. This service is available to anyone who is looking to create a planning application and provides potential planning applicants with expert advice on how in improve their plans. 

About the Awards 
The biennial Building Futures Awards scheme was established in 2009 to recognise projects that demonstrate innovation, creativity and design quality, and offer an opportunity for development professionals and residents to celebrate sustainable development in Hertfordshire. Further information on the awards is available at 

The first awards in 2009 were a great success in raising the profile of the Building Futures initiative, and was attended by high profile representatives of the sustainable development industry and local government sector.