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British Construction Industry Awards 2013 celebrating the very best in construction and engineering

The BCI Awards are the longest standing, most rigorously judged and highly prized in the United Kingdom construction sector

It is certainly early days, but we are at last seeing some very positive signs that the UK is starting to rekindle growth in the economy. And as we continue the slow but steady battle out of recession, the value of continued investment in decent modern infrastructure cannot be underestimated.

Once again the British Construction Industry Awards have demonstrated that quality design and construction remain central to public and private sector infrastructure clients’ ambitions.

As they strive to deliver better services to customers while reducing the cost of operating and maintaining assets, it is very clear that investment up front to improve the design and construction process pays massive dividends in the long run.

This year the awards have seen another fantastic range of entries, showing that year in year out the industry genuinely delivers better, more innovate products and does so through greater collaboration and team working.

And it is reassuring that, despite the immense pressure on every client’s purse strings, there is an acceptance that successful projects also generate profit for the supply chain and so sustain and invigorate the market, enabling it to invest in talent, expertise and product development.

Such an outstanding and diverse bunch of entries means the judging panel’s task gets tougher every year. With 139 high quality entries this year the challenge was first to shortlist down to 40 UK projects and five international schemes to visit and review before selecting the winners.

The role that the public sector now plays in driving and inspiring construction quality was demonstrated by the 29 schemes on the shortlist for the government-backed Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award. The public sector is truly leading the way in terms of value for money, design quality and overall project success.

This year we have also given greater prominence to two award categories, reflecting their vital and growing importance to the industry. The Health and Safety award, supported by the Health & Safety Executive and the Sustainability Award and backed by the government’s Green Construction Board, both underline areas in which the industry simply cannot afford to cut corners.

In addition to the project related categories, another 22 projects were shortlisted and interviewed in our special categories recognising excellence in product design and in the implementation of BIM technologies.

And, new for this year, introduced to mark the centenary of the Association for Consultancy & Engineering, is a special award to find the young professional who will emerge as a Future Leader. Judges agreed that all candidates provided inspiring entries.

Our thanks go to chairman of the judges Peter Hansford who is also government chief construction advisor, and to the judging panel members who freely gave their time and expertise to complete the difficult task of finding this year’s winners.

Congratulations to all the shortlisted projects for this year’s awards and of course to those who will emerge as the winners. They all demonstrated excellence in project delivery and stand tall as exemplars of the way that all construction projects should be delivered.

  • Antony Oliver, Editor, NCE


Forward: Chloe Smith, minister for political and constitutional reform

Chloe Smith

It’s no exaggeration to say that construction has made Britain the nation it is today.

We are a country of canals, railways and sweeping suspension bridges. We’ve also had some great architects, engineers and builders in our history. Smeaton, Bazalgette and Brunel, and the countless men and women who, with a shovel or a spirit level, fired-up the industrial revolution at home and took their expertise overseas to help build the modern world.

Thanks to the efforts of everyone in the sector, the ambition, innovation and excellence continue to this day and UK construction remains world-class.

The British Construction Industry Awards celebrate some of the very best examples, from the grand projects reshaping our cities, down to smaller, more local, efforts serving our communities. But these awards are not just about the technical merit of a building or a functional feat of engineering, important as they are. They are also about the positive impact construction has for individuals and communities, and for the UK as a whole.

When it comes to reducing the deficit and getting the economy back on track there’s no magic bullet. But for a government committed to creating economic growth, there is no sight more encouraging than to see cranes rising above our skylines.

Construction underpins growth in this country - creating infrastructure, creating jobs and helping the UK to compete globally. And we know that innovation inside the public
sector can be used to support growth in the private sector, which is why we’ve made it a key priority to reform public sector construction.

Yes, to build the schools, hospitals, prisons and roads this country needs - at a price that’s good for the taxpayer. But also in a way that cuts waste and helps develop a stronger, more competitive construction industry.

So we want to work with industry so that effective procurement, efficient delivery, competitive pricing, and design excellence become the norm. We will do this by making it easier and simpler to do business with government: by using our construction work to give small firms a boost and by leading the way in digital technologies like Building Information Modelling.

We are also ensuring suppliers can get the cashflow they need through project bank accounts and we’ve published pipelines so industry can prepare for future opportunities.

By working together we can create the jobs and the infrastructure that this country needs, to cut the deficit, stimulate growth and help Britain succeed.

We want the construction industry to tell us what’s working and what isn’t, what needs to be done to ensure the UK remains a great place to do business, and how government can help industry to compete internationally.

Exchanging ideas and sharing best practice will help ensure that the excellence recognised by the British Construction Industry Awards becomes the standard everywhere.
If we do this then the construction industry, the economy and the public all stand to win.

  • Chloe Smith,Minister for political and constitutional reform


Building Project of the Year Award:

For building schemes valued at up to £3M

Winner: Edward King Chapel, Ripon College, Oxfordshire

Commissioning authority: Bayfield Associates/Ripon College

Principal designer: Niall McLaughlin Architects

Principal contractor: Beard Construction

High Commendation: Hayes Primary School, Kenley, Surrey

Bishop Edward King Chapel

Building Project of the Year winner: Edward King Chapel

The winning entry in an RIBA design competition has resulted in a new chapel which delights its users. Constructed primarily of high quality stone externally and timber within, it was completed while the college remained fully operational.

This project was a severe challenge to deliver on a number of counts, as the joint venture commissioning authority, comprising the Sisters of Begbroke and Ripon College, had no previous development experience. Also, there were the further challenges of getting planning permission in a green belt area and to construct a chapel, a type of building for which today’s construction industry has a very limited track record.

Exquisite architectural design and detailing, with extraordinary attention to detail

Judges comment

The high client aspirations led to a RIBA design competition which attracted 150 entries. The winning design by Niall Mclaughlin Architects (NMA) presented complex and unusual construction details, coupled with very high quality finishes both externally and internally.

Beard Construction, as principal contractor, succeeded in building an outstanding chapel and in keeping the college operational during the build period.



Building Project of the Year Award:

For projects valued at between £3M and £50M
Sponsored by Roger Bullivant

Winner: Newlands School, Peckham

Commissioning authority: 4 Futures Limited

Principal designer: Wright & Wright Architects

Engineer: Ramboll

Principal contractor:Balfour Beatty Construction

High Commendation:
– Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, Northern Ireland
– The Backstage Centre, Purfleet

Newlands School, Peckham

Building Project of the Year winner: Newlands School, Peckham

Newlands School, formerly known as Bredinghurst School, was previously located in a large Victorian house adjacent to the new site which was no longer fit for purpose. The new school caters for around 70 boys between 11 and 16, many of whom come from adverse family backgrounds and have specific learning needs.

Extensive consultation during the development of the brief was required to understand the social structure of the school and support its complex functional needs.

A demanding project developed to a very tight programme with strong interaction between the client, the architectural and building teams and the local community has created a unique and appropriate facility

Judges comment

The brief was tailored around the school’s ethos of inclusion and cohesion, providing facilities for a skills-based curriculum focusing on horticulture, cooking, design technology, art, sports, music and performing arts.

Community consultation helped to define the future inclusive outlook of the school with the shared use of the public facilities.



Major Building Project of the Year Award:

For building projects valued at over £50M
Sponsored by Arup

Winner: The Shard at London Bridge

Commissioning authority: Sellar Property Group on behalf of LBQ

Principal designer: Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Architect: WSP Group

Principal contractor: Mace

Major Building Project of the Year winner: The Shard

Major Building Project of the Year winner: The Shard

At 310m tall The Shard is an internationally recognised symbol comprising 24 storeys of offices, three levels of restaurants, 17 storeys of hotel, 13 floors of apartments - all surmounted by a 65m tall steel and glass spire.

Working on a constrained site with 200,000 commuters close by meant that delivering materials and providing safe access was a major challenge, so the team had to rethink the basic principles of construction.

The Shard is impressive because they got the details right in the planning, design and construction. As a result it made the whole project look simple when, in reality, it was immensely complex

Judges’ comment

Led by Mace, the team delivered a number of firsts: the first core to be built by top down construction, the UK’s largest concrete pour, the first use of jump-lift construction, the first inclined hoist in the world and the first crane to be supported on a slipform.

The spire’s modularised design, prefabricated in the works with a trial assembled in the steelyard, ensured that crane usage and time working at heights was minimised.

The project recorded 2.45M RIDDOR-free hours in over 8M hours worked between March 2009 and November 201 2 and has since become an exemplar case study for the delivery of high rise buildings.



Civil Engineering Project of the Year:

For civil engineering schemes valued at up to £3M

Winner: Gem Bridge, Tavistock

Commissioning authority: Devon County Council

Principal designer: Devon County Council

Principal contractor: Dawnus Construction

Finished structure open to the public

Civil Engineering Project of the Year winner: Gem Bridge, Tavistock

Reflecting the design of a now demolished 19th century Brunel rail bridge, the Gem Bridge traverses a steep valley with extremely limited access for the erection of its 60m bridge spans. It completes a gap in the 26km section of the Drake’s Trail linking Tavistock with Plymouth.

Given the historical and environmental importance of the site, prime consideration was given to sympathetic design and construction, particularly as the structure lies within the Dartmoor National Park (DNP).

Special consideration was given to the materials being used in the structure; the ever-changing hues of the valley led to discussions with DNP to select a steel colour that best reflects the light in the valley, and to adopt specialist granite-effect finishes to all exposed concrete.

The coherent and mutually supportive team rose to the challenges, working together to find the best and safest construction techniques and modifying the design accordingly

Judges’ comment

The design of the bridge quietly echoes the history of the valley, where the Walkham Viaduct once stood, which at 300m long was Brunel’s longest Devon viaduct. With its fanning truss members and slender piers, the new Gem Bridge doesn’t aim to directly mimic Brunel’s design, but does consciously take inspiration from its detailing.



Civil Engineering Project of the Year:

For projects valued between £3M and £50M
Sponsored by Lafarge Tarmac

Winner: Hammersmith Flyover Strengthening Phase 1k

Commissioning authority: Transport for London

Principal designer: Amey

Principal contractor: Amey

Hammersmith Flyover strengthening: British engineering at its best

Civil Engineering Project of the Year: Hammersmith Flyover strengthening phase 1

In late December 2011 the Hammersmith Flyover was closed due to structural defects in the post-tensioning system. The project team was faced with the challenge of delivering £15M worth of strengthening works within a 23 week programme, including design. The team’s approach to the solution was to innovate, not blindly follow normal practice.

The works were technically demanding, requiring specialist stressing operations, sophisticated structural monitoring, involving safety critical activities in confined spaces and operations adjacent to live traffic.

British engineering at its best demonstrated innovative, effective and efficient engineering design, teamwork and logistics, all coming together to produce an outstanding result on time and below budget

Judges’ comment

The team created a culture where innovation and ideas were welcomed from every level. The flyover reopened on 28 May 2012, one week ahead of programme, ready to perform as a major artery into London for the Olympics.

Technical ability, innovative thinking, exemplary health and safety record and total dedication from the project team led to the success of this highly complex project.



Major Civil Engineering Project of the Year:

For projects valued at over £50M
Sponsored by Hall Fuels

Winner: Cleaner Seas for Sussex, Peacehaven

Commissioning authority: Southern Watern

Architect: 4Delivery

Principal designer: MWH

Principal contractor: 4Delivery

Cleaner Seas for Sussex: Peacehaven treatment works

Major Civil Engineering Project of the Year winner: Cleaner Seas for Sussex

This was a complex and controversial construction project to deliver a new sewage treatment works for the Brighton & Hove area. It has been concealed from local view, is odour free, features the largest green roof of its kind in the UK, and treats 95M litres of waste water each day through 9km of tunnel, a 2.5km outfall and three pumping stations.

Comprehensive engagement was undertaken with the local community including local liaison groups; a dedicated project website; talks to schools, local authorities and community groups, a regular project newsletter and a visitor centre. With over 2,000 people having site tours during construction, vociferous objectors to the project became avid supporters ecognised through two CIPR PRide awards in 2011.

The fact that this was delivered successfully and the community is completely satisfied with the outcome, is a great credit to all those involved

Judges’ comment

With extensive tunnelling under properties and conscious of the fact visitors couldn’t go underground, the project developed a video showing the tunnelling activity.

This was then shown to residents in their own homes, informing them of the activities happening in the ground underneath them, allaying fears and uncertainty.



Sustainability Award:

For a project that demonstrates success across the wider demands of sustainable construction, with best practice examples across the three pillars of sustainable thinking - environmental, economic and social performance
Sponsored by UK Power Network Services

Winner: The Hive, Worcester

Commissioning authority: University of Worcester & Worcestershire County Council

Architect and principal designer: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Services engineer: Max Fordham

Principal contractor: Galliford Try Construction

High Commendation: Nottingham Left Bank Flood Alleviation Scheme

The Hive public library, Worcester

Sustainability Award winner: The Hive public library, Worcester

The strikingly clad Hive is an integrated public and university library, the first of its kind in the UK. It also includes the County Archives and Records Office, a local history centre and the County’s Archaeological Service, together with a multi-agency customer service centre. It achieved Breeam Outstanding status.

The external form, inspired by the rich history of the city and its landscape setting, is also a response to current sustainability drivers.

The team worked well together to deliver what the client wanted - a outstandingly sustainable, multi-use building - and they weathered changes well

Judges’ comment

As a sustainable building, The Hive’s fabric works hard to passively temper the internal environment: the in-situ concrete frame - with 40% cement replacement - provides thermal mass. Glazing is designed and specified to maximise visible light, while minimising solar gain. The copper alloy cladding to roofs and elevations completes a building envelope designed to achieve excellent air tightness.

Through teamwork, challenging ideas were explored and evaluated with open minds rather than rejected for being untried and risky. It has already been recognised with Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers and the Civic Trust awards.



Health & Safety Award:

For a, project or construction-related activity which demonstrates innovative or significant thinking that moves health & safety forward
Sponsored by RMD Kwikform

Winner: M4-M5 Managed Motorway Scheme

Commissioning authority: Highways Agency

Principal designer: Atkins

Principal contractor: Balfour Beatty

M4-M5 Managed Motorway Scheme

Health & Safety Award winner: M4-M5 Managed Motorway Scheme

This complex £88M managed motorways project has become a beacon for shared learning with the industry at large by delivering outstanding and innovative health and safety training combined with efficiency and best practice initiatives.

During 2011, Balfour Beatty introduced a series of visual standards for plant/person interface zones (PPI), showing safe and exclusion zones around many pieces of plant commonly used on sites. In 2012 these visual standards were adopted by the Highways Agency's Managed Motorway Delivery Hub Safety Group as industry best practice.

An outstanding example of shared knowledge for the greater good of health and safety throughout the industry

Judges' comment

The M4-M5 team discovered that just giving out cards was not sufficient to change culture. Checks revealed that our gangs were not fully conversant with the requirements contained within the standards. A PPI steering group was set up to target behavioural improvement with life-sized training developed from an idea the group had. The training uses life-sized model people, real machinery, some of the actual on-site video footage of behaviours and reconstructions of major incidents. Everyone is given the opportunity to sit in the cab of a machine to see how little the driver can actually see.



International Award:

For projects outside the UK for which one or more UK-based British firms have made a significant contribution. Sponsored by URS.

Winner: British Antarctic Survey, Halley Research Station, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica

Commissioning authority: British Antarctic Survey

Principal designer: Aecom

Architect: Hugh Broughton Architects

Principal contractor: Galliford Try Construction

Halley VI

International Award winner: British Antarctic Survey

Halley VI is the most southerly science research station operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). It represents a massive technical advancement on previous bases including a significant reduction in maintenance, energy consumption and environmental impact.

In tandem with BAS objectives and the extraordinary demands of the harshest climate on earth, the construction and operation of the station had to meet the stringent requirements of the Antarctic Treaty environmental protocols.

The creation of these buildings in one of the most hostile and difficult environments on planet Earth was a triumph for integrated, cohesive team working of the very highest order

Judges' comment

The project team went through three full value engineering and peer reviews to optimise functional efficiency without eroding the client's objectives or the designers' concepts. Delivery posed a significant challenge, as the ice shelf protrudes 20m above sea level. All materials had to be unloaded onto sea ice with a maximum bearing capacity of only 9.5t, materials were then dragged on sledges across and up man-made snow ramps created in natural creeks at the cliff-like edge of the ice shelf.

Galliford Try delivered the project to agreed budget and timescales and with an Accident Frequency Rate of zero.



Leader of Tomorrow Award:

This award recognises and rewards the talented young professionals as they emerge into the built environment professions across the design and construction disciplines and forge their careers as leaders of tomorrow.
Supported by The Association for Consultancy & Engineering

Winner: Conall Doherty, Buro Happold

High Commendation: Alistair Hitchcock, Mott MacDonald

Leader of the Future winner: Conall Doherty

Leader of Tomorrow Award winner: Conall Doherty

Conall Doherty has worked on a range of projects throughout the Middle East region, from site supervision on a multi-billion pond university in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to the design of a super-tall residential tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He cites his post as structural job leader for the assessment and repair of a fire damaged high rise building in Doha, Qatar, as one of his career highlights.

There is no doubt in the minds of the judging panel that he is a future leader and is already an enthusiastic and energetic role model. He has taken the time to think about his vision, his style and his approach to leadership, despite his young age

Judges comment

He has also been one of the apprentices to ICE President, Barry Clarke. His theme for his year as President's apprentice has been "ethics" and the importance of ethical leadership, which he found fascinating to combine with his experience of working abroad to explore the ethical challenges facing construction professionals. He is currently working with the ICE ethics committee to develop an institution-wide questionnaire and a case study based "values exchange" forum.



BIM Project Application Award:

All public projects must use a Building Information Modelling system during their design and construction delivery process by 2016. This award supports this strategy by identifying and rewarding the exemplar projects in the UK
Sponsored by Bentley Systems

Winner (Building): Woodland School

Winner (Civil Engineering): Crossrail

Due to the difference in scale of entries in this category, there are two winners.

BIM project application winner (building): Woodlands School

BIM Project Application Award winner (building): Woodlands School

Woodland School

A clear demonstration that Building Information Modelling (BIM) is not just about technology but is a genuine enabler for delivering clients a much better product over the lifetime of the project.

Through early engagement with the building users and the facilities manager, Skanska has been able to set up and run this project with a clear end in mind about the user need. The team truly understands the power of BIM and set out to create an exemplar of "doing it properly and doing it for real".

Focus on integration of all data and across the whole supply chain meant that risk was managed early and value was driven into the project. This project is fully in line with the government strategy to embrace BIM and whole life cost management.

BIM project application winner (civil engineering): Crossrail

BIM Project Application Award winner (civil engineering): Crossrail


Information management on a scale never seen before in infrastructure. Crossrail has set out to lead a wholesale change in the way that information is used and managed in design, construction, commissioning testing and eventually operation of 21st century railways. By sharing information, the aim is to take data and create knowledge throughout the supply chain, reducing risk, improving safety and delivering overall greater value for the client. The innovative Information Academy is critical to developing a culture that embraces and shares new ways of working. Using BIM is central to enabling this project to be designed and constructed efficiently and will ensure that it is effectively commissioned, operated and maintained when in use.



Regeneration Award:

For a project of any size which has made a significant contribution to the regeneration of an underprivileged area or the creation of new facilities or accommodation which has made exceptional use of brownfield sites

Winner: Eastside City Park, Birmingham

Commissioning authority: Birmingham City Council

Principal designer: Patel Taylor (Leeds Studio)

Engineer: Arup

Principal contractor: Wates Construction

Regeneration winner: Eastside City Park, Birmingham

Regeneration Award winner: Eastside City Park, Birmingham

Birmingham's first new public park in 130 years has doubled the amount of green space in the city centre and marks the latest phase of the regeneration of the city's
east side.

Created on a brownfield site, the park is a focal point for the quarter, providing a district identity for the existing buildings and a setting for future development.

It also acts as a piece of green infrastructure linking Eastside to the city centre and has already helped to attract £250M of investment.

This new public park is a regeneration enabler and an asset which adds value to the surrounding commercial development. Another example of Birmingham's commitment to the public realm

Judges' comment

The £12M scheme required collaborative working between the client, designers, contractor and specialist supply chain to develop the design from the original concept through to completion.

The end result is a superb land mark public space with water features, trees and attractive green spaces, public conveniences, office and retail space.



Best Practice Award:

For projects which involved processes adopted to understand and meet client needs; supported team working throughout; and maintained continuous improvement. Sponsored by Topcon

Winner: Thameslink - Borough Viaduct, Borough High Street Bridge, London

Commissioning authority: Network Rail

Principal designer: Atkins

Architect: Jestico & Whiles

Principal contractor: Skanska UK Civil Engineering

Best practice winner: Thameslink – Borough Viaduct, Borough High Street Bridge, London

Best Practice Award winner: Thameslink – Borough Viaduct, Borough High Street Bridge, London

The 350m twin-track viaduct spanning Borough Market, Borough High Street and the approaches to London Bridge Station required extensive demolition and reinstatement of properties and a historic, listed cast iron roof. Intensive liaison with local businesses kept Borough Market operational throughout.

The co-operation within the whole team was outstanding and working with the community at every stage of facilitated the construction. A win-win for all concerned and an fine exemplar of best practice

Judges' comment

The area is rich in cultural heritage, archaeology and listed buildings and has a complex interface with the Borough Market, its traders, local residents, businesses and Southwark Cathedral. The viaduct is adjacent to a busy operational railway. Engagement of the workforce and minimising the impact of the project on the community has been the key to its successful and safe delivery. The project has been run in a collaborative manner, including collaborative planning sessions where all parties that have the ability to affect the programme are involved in the detailed planning and a joint recognition scheme.



Product Design Innovation Award:

This award rewards technical innovation in product design or application for a specific project which has boosted the overall project outcome and so delivered greater client satisfaction

Winner: Thameslink - Byrne Group Falsework Release Tool

Production design innovation winner: Byrne Group Falsework Release Tool

Production Design Innovation Award winner: Byrne Group Falsework Release Tool

Byrne Group's falsework release tool was developed after the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) issued prohibition notices relating to noise to several contractors and the HSE increased its focus on occupational health.

The tool overcomes the health and safety issues associated with striking the falsework needed for concrete structures. It is the only tool of its kind in the construction industry and can be used worldwide.

Releasing the load from the falsework is usually involves great difficulty and risk, because the load has exerted extreme pressure on the falsework. The adjustable screw collars on the falsework jacks require a large force to turn them and release the load above. This force is traditionally achieved by a series of loud and dangerous hammer swings, usually above 90dB, compromising workers' hearing, damaging costly equipment, and generating noise levels that affect nearby operatives and disturb site neighbours.

Byrne Group designed, tested and patented a tool to turn the collar, using a bespoke electrical unit to create a hydraulic torque of up to 1,000 Newton metres. Following two years' prototype testing, the first four tools are out of production and are in use on Byrne construction sites.



Judges' Special Award:

For a UK or International building or civil engineering project of any size which the judges consider to be particularly inspirational.
Sponsored by Mott MacDonald

Winner: The London 2012 Olympic Park Project

Commissioning authority: Olympic Delivery Authority

Principal designers/engineers: Aecom, Arup, Atkins

Principal contractors: Balfour Beatty, Bam Nuttall, Skanska

Judges' special award winner: The London 2012 Olympic Park Project

Judges' Special Award winner: The London 2012 Olympic Park Project

Through high quality design and construction, 250ha of barren land was transformed into natural beauty for the Olympic Games phase, leaving the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park fully prepared for new businesses, homes and recreational facilities.

In just seven years from London being awarded the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the brownfield site was prepared for development, infrastructure constructed and structures erected for the world's largest sporting event.

A project of mammoth scale made a profound difference to the community and economy in east London and a very memorable backdrop to the Olympic Games. The quality of the landscaping and many of the secondary buildings and bridges was outstanding

Judges' comment

Over 200 existing buildings were demolished and the task of cleaning up the land, after years of contamination by heavy industry, began. This fundamental task to decontaminate the heavily polluted site was essential for the construction work that was to follow, for the London 2012 Games and the Park's long-term community legacy.

Through the team's well planned and managed approach, the sites for the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre were handed over several months ahead of schedule.



Outstanding Contribution Award:

This award will recognises the individual or team involved which, in the view of the judging panel, has gone beyond the norm to ensure that the projects sets a standard to follow in the future. Sponsored by Topcon

Winner: London Underground

Outstanding contribution winner: London Underground

Outstanding Contribution Award winner: London Underground

The London Underground network celebrates its 150th anniversary this year and, largely due to the tenacity, vision, skills and determination of engineers, architects, planners and politicians, it retains its position as the oldest and busiest transport metro network in the world.

The city-changing idea for the first Metropolitan Line section between Paddington and the City, came from the public transport passions of lawyer Charles Pearson who used his position as City of London solicitor in the 1840s and 1850s to promote improvements to transport communications.

However, it was the sheer tenacity and engineering ingenuity of past Institution of Civil Engineers president John Fowler that enabled the idea to become a reality. This first 6km section of cut and cover tunnels with seven stations opened in 1863, spearheading development of the 400km, 270 station network that we see today across the capital.

The challenge of constructing under London, at deep level through London Clay or through the difficult water laden sands and gravels south of the Thames have prompted numerous technical advances over the years, from the early shield tunnels through to the complex tunnel boring machines and ground stability techniques employed today.

But London Underground (LU) has also led the design of modern stations starting with its passenger focused design work on the extension of the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf and Stratford in the 1990s. This spawned a new generation of spacious, step free, facilities such as the newly upgraded King's Cross station which is now setting the benchmark for the world's metro operators as they strive to construct comparable networks.

The trains have also moved on considerably since the steam engines used on the original with LU constantly pioneering the latest rolling stock and signalling systems to provide safer, more comfortable and reliable journeys.

Keeping the Tube running demands an extraordinary effort by the engineers, designers, planners and rail specialists

Today the Tube is a vital part of capital's economy, carrying over 3M passengers a day. Keeping it running demands an extraordinary effort by the engineers, designers, planners and rail specialists not least as LU tackles the constant job of maintaining and renewing 2.5% of the network each year and presses forward with its £1.3bn a year enhancement programme.

This programme currently involves a major upgrade of Victoria station - one of the busiest on the network, handling nearly 100M passengers each year - and of Tottenham Court Road and many other interchanges with Crossrail. These major projects will be followed by the Bank Station upgrade. A new Northern Line extension to Battersea will soon start as will phase 2 of the Northern Line upgrade which includes a major new station at Camden Town.

Lessons from major events such as the King's Cross fire in 1987 and the 7/7 bombings of 2005 mean that the network is now one the safest and most secure transport systems in the world.

When it first opened the Met line was a huge success, used by more than 25,000 passengers a day. The Tube network now carries 3.5M passengers on weekdays, and with the population of London set to grow by another 1M people over the next decade, the pressure on the Tube and the need for expansion and improvement will only increase.

But it is clear that over the last 150 years the Tube has been the driver for economic and population growth in the capital. As a client, LU has constantly set new benchmarks for the way in which a modern high capacity metro systems should be designed, built, maintained and operated.



The Prime Minister's Better
Public Building Award:

For buildings and infrastructure projects of any size commissioned by or on behalf of central or local government or by a grant-aided organisation. Sponsored by BIS, the Cabinet Office and Design Council CABE

Winner: Manchester Metropolitan University Business School & Student Hub

Commissioning authority: Manchester Metropolitan University

Principal designers: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Structural engineer: WYG

Principal contractors: Sir Robert McAlpine

The Prime Minister’s better public building winner: Manchester Metropolitan University

The Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award winner: Manchester Metropolitan University

This significant and visually striking new building provides a flexible and sustainable multi-environment facility covering some 23,400m2 and serving 5,000 students and 250 staff.

The design provides the university with a unique, landmark building, symbolic of its own progressive, creative and extrovert character. It has delivered a building that is flexible, robust and legible and which simply accommodates the diverse range of spaces required.

The design has delivered innovation in a number of areas, including the dichroic facade and a structure embedded cooling system.

A very engaged and intelligent client who set the agenda for what was needed, which was delivered by the excellent team as a result of good planning and good working through of issues ahead of construction

Judges' comment

The success of the building has been very much down to the superb relationships developed between the client, contractor and consultants - it was a real pleasure to work on this project for all involved.

Working closely with an informed client, the design has been developed with the end users to meet their requirements and exceed their expectations.





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