The new £188 million Library of Birmingham is up for architecture's top prize against the likes of London's Shard and the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize is awarded annually to the best new building and previous winners include the Lord's cricket ground media centre, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh.
The library was named as one of 44 national awards winners last month and is now in the six-strong final shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize.
With its "Harry Potter rotunda" and "Willy Wonka-style glass lift", the Library of Birmingham was described by judges as a landmark and a bold addition to the city.
The building is composed of "three stacked boxes adorned with a glittering filigree screen" and has "shaken the traditional perception of a library," judges said
Judges compared The Shard to the "Gothic spire of a German cathedral" and said it was "the most significant step forward on the London skyline since St Paul's".
They said that making the tower, which houses a health clinic, offices, restaurants, hotel, apartments and public viewing gallery, "a thing of great beauty"..."on such a tight site" was a "rare achievement".
The full shortlist for the Riba Stirling Prize:
* Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, by Haworth Tompkins
* Library of Birmingham by Mecanoo
* London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects
* London Bridge Tower (The Shard) by Renzo Piano Building Workshop
* London School of Economics - Saw Swee Hock Student Centre by O'Donnell + Tuomey Architects
* Manchester School of Art by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
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