Acropolis Museum shortlisted for architecture award

Swiss-born architect Bernard Tschumi has been shortlisted for the European Union?s prize for architecture for his design of the new Acropolis Museum.

Located at the foot of the ancient citadel, the 130 million euro glass-and-marble structure hosts a vast collection of classical treasures dating from the 4th century BC to the 5th century AD.

After years of snags and delays, the museum opened in June 2009 replacing its predecessor on top of the hill with a monumental space ten times the size. It attracted two million visitors in its first year of operation.

Organised by the Fundacio Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona, the EU award is given every two years to acknowledge and reward quality architectural production in Europe. It comes with a 60,000 euro cash prize.

Some 340 projects from 33 European countries were submitted for the 2011 prize.

Competing for the award this year are Zaha Hadid for the MAXXI Museum in Rome, David Chipperfield for the Neues Museum in Berlin, Jean Nouvel for the Danish Radio Concert Hall in Copenhagen, Martine De Maeseneer for the Bronks Youth Theatre in Brussels and Koen van Velsen for the Rehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal in Arnhem.

The museum’s bold modern design, drawn in collaboration with homegrown architect Michael Fotiadis, has generated controversy in the past as critics argue the building is out place with the Greek capital?s historic center.

Foreign observers, on the other hand, have overall been more generous in their reviews. ?A building that is both an enlightening mediation on the Parthenon and a mesmerizing work in its own right. I can?t remember seeing a design that is so eloquent about another work of architecture,? wrote The New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff.

Last year the museum received the British Guild of Travel Writers? (BGTW) prestigious global award for the Best Worldwide Tourism Project for 2010.

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