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Engineers told to break into RIBA competition judging

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ENGINEERS SHOULD insist on a major role in the organisation and judging of bridge design competitions even if the competitions are run by RIBA, a leading engineer said this week.

'At the moment RIBA is the only show in town for bridge design competitions. But the best engineers and builders should be leading the briefing and jury stages, ' said Expedition Engineering director Chris Wise, designer of London's Millennium Bridge.

Wise, writing for NCE in the wake of the recent debate over the RIBA 'stranglehold' on bridge competitions (NCE 23 March), said that engineers must reassert their leadership of bridge design rather than 'compliantly hand it over to architects'.

An engineering adviser is appointed to the panel for RIBA competitions. But RIBA's competition offi admitted that frequently engineers are not independently nominated by either the ICE or the Institution of Structural Engineers. Rather, the client for the project will select an engineer.

The office could not confirm who will be responsible for appointing the engineering advisor to its latest bridge competition - for the new River Avon footbridge in Stratford upon Avon. An announcement is expected next week.

'RIBA uts orward rchitects for the panel and we would look to ICE to name an engineer, although often clients have an engineer on board already, ' said a RIBA spokesman.

Adams Kara Taylor director Hanif Kara agreed that engineering institutions should have more engineer judges involved, but countered Wise's view that engineers should take the lead in bridge design.

Engineers' role in competitions should remain one of 'reinforcing aesthetics with their best engineering effort', he said.

'There is no question that in the case of bridges the engineering discipline can be more dominant. The problem is that in this role there is a tendency to translate the pragmatic issues in a disproportionately technical way to create monsters.'

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