07/22/2011 02:56 pm ET Updated Sep 21, 2011

Stirling Prize Releases Shortlist Of Nominees (PHOTOS)

The Stirling Prize, traditionally the highest mark of distinction for UK-built or -designed buildings, may have found itself with a shortage of choices this year, given the tight construction environment, according to an article in the Guardian.

Critics have been tepid in their response, with this year's nominees having been called "joyless" (Telegraph) and "not necessarily game-changing" (Guardian).

Some of these negative appraisals exclude Hopkins Architects' Olympic Velodrome, which has taken an early lead in critical speculation. The cycling stadium, which, according to a third Guardian article, has been dubbed "The Pringle" for its curved shape, has also been called "the best in the world" by British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford.

The other major contender is O'Donnell & Tuomeys' An Gaeláras, an Irish-language cultural center whose Stirling Prize nomination represents the first in Northern Ireland. BBC News reports that the building was recognized by the Royal Institute of British Architects in May and picked up an Architectural Association of Ireland award last year.

The other nominees, Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield, AHMM and Bennetts Associates, have all been nominated for the Stirling Prize before. The six buildings in contention for the prize are shown in the slideshow below.

The winner of the Stirling Prize will be announced October 2.

2011 Stirling Prize For Architecture Shortlist