The winners of the 2020 Victorian Architecture Awards were announced in a live-streamed ceremony on Friday, with 63 awards given to some of the state’s most impressive architectural endeavours.

Melbourne’s recently revamped 164-year-old State Library received a nod, along with the stunning 1920s Capitol Theatre, which reopened in 2019.

The highly regarded awards program has been run by the Australian Institute of Architects since 1929. The volunteer juries include some of the country’s top architects, chosen to reflect a balance of experience, with a 50-50 gender split.

“One of the things we really pride ourselves on … is that it’s one of the few programs where we go and physically visit the projects, so that’s been a huge challenge this year because we haven’t been able to do that this year,” says chair of juries Ingrid Bakker.

Due to the pandemic, the nominated projects were presented to each jury via Zoom, and the 108 short-listed sites had to be toured virtually.

That spirit of adaptation also extended to the winner’s list, which includes several heritage buildings reinvigorated for the new decade.

Among them, Bakker points to the Broadmeadows Town Hall, which received three awards, including the top gong, the Victorian Architecture Medal.

“I think the Broadmeadows Town Hall is pretty special,” she says. “It was an outdated community building, which was cleverly, adaptively re-used, rather than replaced.”

When it was first unveiled in 1964, the ambitious pink-brick monolith was nicknamed "The Pink Elephant" by neighbouring municipalities.

Kerstin Thompson Architects retained the character of the building, which has hosted weddings, citizenship ceremonies, debutant balls and basketball games, while ensuring its usefulness for the future. Its distinctive two-tone brickwork, steel and timber details and grand staircase all remain.

“There’s quite a lot of adaptive re-use across multiple categories,” says Bakker. “Rather than knocking the building down and starting again, there’s been quite a few projects that have skilfully adapted the existing building, and from a sustainability point of view that’s important.”

Climate change, and now Covid-19, have put sustainability, longevity and flexibility front of mind for many architects, Bakker says, adding, “I think we’ll all be more aware of the need for our buildings to assist in how people move through spaces and interact with spaces … and the responsibility of a good building to respond to that need.”

She says it’s important to consider not just what buildings can do for us right now, but how they’ll still serve us 50 or 100 years into the future.

This year, the Enduring Architecture Award went to the Great Southern Stand at the MCG.

“It was definitely to acknowledge [architect] Daryl Jackson, who’s been a huge contributor to the quality of Melbourne architecture for many, many years. But that project, in particular, was a real game changer,” says Bakker. “It was a new way of designing stadia that really [prioritised] the experience of the patrons.

“I think there was also a bit of a nostalgia … because we’re all missing the kind of events that happen at the ‘G.”

The full list of winners can be found here.