THE soaring glass canopies rising out of the new stations on the Epping to Chatswood rail link and the powerful way they draw light deep into the cavernous spaces are two features that have helped the designer, Hassell, win the state’s most prestigious public architecture prize, the Sulman Award.The honour was announced last night as part of the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2010 NSW Architecture Awards. Projects combining modest footprints, big social agendas and striking sculptural forms dominated the 42 awards and commendations, selected from a record field of 200-plus entrants. In awarding Hassell the top prize, the judges said the stations set a new benchmark for transport design in Australia.”While the station planning is highly rational and easy for all users to understand, the spatial experience is rich and exciting,” the judges said.The stations “are bathed in natural light during the day and dramatically lit after dark, while the ticketing halls, major circulation spaces and platforms are skilfully inserted into cavernous spaces”.Despite the pubic uproar about the demolition of the former Baron’s building in Kings Cross, its replacement designed by Durbach Block Architects won the Sir Arthur G Stephenson prize for commercial architecture. The judges described the four-storey Roslyn Street design as “a poetic sculptural element that gathers and unifies the building’s surroundings”.The Surry Hills Library and Community Centre by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp emerged as the night’s most honoured project, winning a public architecture award while also taking out the Milo Dunphy Award for sustainable architecture and the John Verge Award for interior architecture. The judges said the building “eschews conventional notions of contemporary public architecture for local communities”.Another multiple-award winner was Paddington Reservoir Gardens by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with JMD Design and the City of Sydney. The design team won the Greenway Award for heritage and the Lloyd Rees Award for urban design.Tonkin Zulaikha Greer’s work on the Glasshouse Arts, Conference and Entertainment Centre in Port Macquarie also earned it the Blacket Prize for regional architecture, along with a commendation for public architecture.On the housing front, Tzannes Associates won the major residential architecture award for new houses or alterations and additions, the Wilkinson Award. Tzannes’s entry was the “sober and robust” Bilgola residence on Sydney’s northern beaches. It was the fourth Wilkinson Award for the head of the practice, Alec Tzannes, since 1988 – an honour only rivalled by architects Harry Seidler and Glenn Murcutt, who have won four and five Wilkinson Awards respectively.The Charles Sturt University School of Dentistry in Wagga Wagga by Brewster Hjorth Architects won the Colorbond Award for steel architecture. Two other regional projects – the Maitland Regional Art Gallery by Paul Berkemeier Architect with Barry McGregor and Associates, and the Junee Library by Workshop 1 Dunn + Hillam Architects – were awarded the 2010 Premier’s Prize.