Since 1996, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has been awarding the architectural equivalent of a Booker Prize for literature to architects of buildings that have made the "greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture over the past year."
The prize, named after noted British architect James Stirling, includes a £20,000 cash award. The shortlist for 2012 was unveiled just a few days ago and the winner will be announced in Manchester on Oct. 13.
This year's list is comprised of six architecturally ambitious buildings: there's the sleek and sustainable London Olympic Stadium; the serene place of healing, Maggie's Centre in Glasgow that creates an architectural medley of juxtapositions; the strikingly detailed Lyric Theatre in Belfast; the New Court Rothschild Bank in London, which is both commanding yet elegant; the innovative and impeccable Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University; and finally the breathtaking and radical Hepworth Wakefield gallery in Yorkshire.
Jury members are asked to consider many aspects of the building; from the quality of design to sustainability, budget, architectural ambition, and accessibility. This year's jury is composed of Sir Nicholas Grimshaw (architect and chair of the board), Hilde Daem (architect, Belgium), Joanna van Heyningen (architect), Naomi Cleaver (designer and TV presenter), and Sir Mark Jones (Master of St Cross College Oxford).
Take a look through the slideshow to see some photographs of the shortlisted buildings and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments section.