(Above) The Haley VI Antarctic Research Station, winner of the 2013 Structural Award for Sustainability
We hold The Structural Awards each year to recognise outstanding accomplishment by structural engineers around the world. David Nethercot, a Past President of the Institution and Gold Medal winner, is Chairman of the Awards Judging Panel. As we announce our Structural Awards shortlist, he discusses the judging process and what qualities he and his team look for in an entry.
I’m very privileged to chair The Structural Awards Judging Panel. The Awards are tremendously important as we are the only professional, worldwide Institution devoted to structural engineering and this is our opportunity to celebrate the very best work of our members. Every year we attract entries from all around the world, showcasing an enormous variety of projects in terms of scale and function.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about who structural engineers are and what we do. The best way of explaining structural engineering I have heard is to think in terms of the human body: where the architect chooses the clothes, we look after the skeleton. The Awards illustrate the huge variety of creativity, innovation and design excellence involved in this work – whether bridges, skyscrapers, stadiums, or heritage projects.
The event has certainly changed a lot in the 46 years we have been running it, with entries coming in from more and more countries and companies. What remains the same is the excellence of the engineering we see. It is always a difficult process to reduce the submissions to the shortlist. The challenge for the judges is the same each time: to see beyond the superficial and highlight the quality of the underlying work - and then to reach consensus.
When it comes to identifying our award winners, we all have personal preference and we sometimes feel that deserving projects have not been recognised as much as they should. On the whole though we generally agree on the most outstanding structures. One of the most striking projects I have seen in recent years was the Halley VI Antarctic Research Station, which was a highly deserving winner of our 2013 Structural Award for Sustainability.
As a showcase of outstanding quality, the Awards also help engineers address one of our greatest challenges: convincing our clients of the long term efficacy of paying for quality up front as opposed to gravitating towards the lowest price. Our award-winning projects perfectly illustrate how quality in planning and execution creates smooth progress and delighted users.
Having been involved with The Structural Awards for something like 15 years I am consistently impressed by the range and quality of each year's submissions. It truly is a very comforting commentary on our profession, and I’m already very excited about this year’s event.