To all appearances, little has changed since the last Building Awards a year ago.
Whether it's John Prescott chastising housebuilders, Prince Charles pricking architects or the City belittling contractors, this remains the sector so many love to hate.

It might take years to persuade opinion-formers, and the public at large, otherwise. But for all its problems, construction's performance is improving. And the performance of the best firms is improving exponentially – as any of this year's Building Awards judges might tell you.

All the 2003 finalists, and especially the winners, can demonstrate true excellence. And that's not just their view, or the subjective judgment of the assessors. It's what their clients tell us when they respond to the survey that constitutes an integral part of the judging process.

That sounds like a recipe for complacency. It isn't. The industry's problems are still evident, even in its best exponents. Once again, we put special emphasis in our judging on the entrants' safety records, their attitude to training and the general well-being of their staff, and their ability to innovate. We also launched a new award, in association with the CITB, to recognise the industry's young achievers – and included another, sponsored by Taylor Woodrow, to celebrate entrepreneurship.

This is the ninth Building Awards. It's gratifying to see that, in many ways, the industry's elite is now unrecognisable from those we honoured at the first event in 1995. But there's still a long way to go before construction can claim to be Britain's best – as well as biggest – industry. We hope these awards will continue to be a catalyst for positive change. And we want to drive those who seek ever higher levels of excellence to be – as Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger once told one of his strikers – "all that they can be".

How the winners were chosen

A record 250 firms entered the 2003 Building Awards, so it was more difficult than ever to choose the winners. In most categories, the entrants completed a questionnaire covering everything from their financial performance, attitude to sustainability and approach to partnering to their investment in IT and training. They also provided details of a model project – a scheme completed over the previous year that demonstrated their skills. Three panels of judges, made up of senior industry figures, determined the winners. They were aided by a random survey of the companies’ leading clients, who were asked to assess the quality of service and integrity. The only award that was judged in a different way was the new Manufacturer of the Year category. Here, we assembled an academy of 200 specifiers of building materials, who were asked to nominate the most innovative and reliable manufacturers. The top six were then subjected to another round of voting by the academy. All those shortlisted for the various categories were then put forward for a special Best Practice Award, which was judged by Construction Best Practice’s chief executive Brian Moone.

Who were the judges?

Tony Douglas BAA (contracting categories)
Peter Rogers Stanhope (consultant categories)
Hugh Try Housing Forum (housebuilding categories)
Sir Michael Latham CITB (young achiever category)

Other judges
David Adamson Cambridge University
Adrian Barrick Building
Lord Best Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Richard Clare EC Harris
Martin Davis Emcor Drake & Scull
Bob Emerson Arup
Mike Freshney
Dermot Gleeson MJ Gleeson
Richard Hall Faithful & Gould
Wayne Hemingway hemingwaydesign
Benny Kelly Sir Robert McAlpine
Rudi Klein SEC Group
Zara Lamont Carillion
Sir Frank Lampl Bovis Lend Lease
David Morley David Morley Architects
Kevin Myers Health and Safety Executive
John Pagano Canary Wharf
James Pickard Cartwright Pickard
Struan Robertson Wates
Jon Rouse CABE
Josephine Smit Building
John Weir
Bob White Mace
Geoff Wright Hammerson