At the end of another busy year, here is a reminder of some of the features that stood out for our readers


Every week Building publishes the big-impact stories that affect companies working in the wider UK construction industry.

>>See also: Best of 2023: columns and opinion pieces

>>See also: Best of 2023: interviews

>>See also: Best of 2023: news stories


Here we have compiled a list of the most-read features from the past year.  

1. ‘The industry is broken.’ The soul-searching begins as London M&E specialist succumbs to familiar foes

Published October


“I think there’s going to be a lot of contractors in crisis meetings this morning, working out what to do next.”

The collapse into administration yesterday of Michael J Lonsdale has caused widespread shock and anguish among senior industry figures contacted by Building.

“The construction industry is broken when the likes of MJL disappear,” one senior source said. “Lots of damage is to come.”

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2. The power of four: how UK’s biggest builders are working together on £1bn prisons programme

Published March

HMP Five Wells drone (1)

“I’ve never worked so hard in my life on a job I was never going to build,” Laing O’Rourke veteran Mark Platt says. As someone who has been employed by the firm for nearly three decades, he still seems a bit baffled that his latest job involved securing work for Kier.

But that is exactly what Laing, Wates and ISG did on the government’s £1bn prisons programme – and the approach is being hailed as the future of big construction projects.

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3. ‘The design team has gone from 500 to six.’ What HS2 Euston is doing now

Published June

“It was pretty sombre.” Andy Swift, the man in charge of building the planned HS2 station at Euston, is recalling the mood when the team was told three months ago that the project was being mothballed for two years.

Transport secretary Mark Harper made the announcement, via a written statement, one afternoon in early March. “We didn’t think it was going to happen,” Swift adds.

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4. Landsec’s new London development: Threading a building through the eye of a needle

Published April

Landsec n2 truss installation

Source: Lynch Architects

Later this year developer Landsec will add another piece to the complex redevelopment jigsaw around London’s Victoria station. Much of this has been shaped by Landsec, which is heavily invested in the area, including its own HQ on Victoria Street.

This local portfolio also includes Nova, a 727,000ft2 scheme spread over three buildings and the largest development ever undertaken by Landsec. Six years after Nova was completed, Landsec is putting the finishing touches to the next phase of the Nova masterplan. 

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5. The stakes are high – so are the rewards: AI and the future of construction

Published August

AI week-index-07

Disruptive technologies, of which artificial intelligence (AI) is currently a frontrunner, can be such charming underminers of our own certainty, irrevocably pushing us outside our comfort zone and forcing us to rethink all that we have been taking for granted. They are, in many ways, the white rabbit of our industry. And, like Alice in Wonderland, we can choose to ignore them. Or we can go down the rabbit hole.

Down the rabbit hole there is a great deal of uncertainty, unknowns and failure. But there are also a lot of possibilities. “I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order,” writes Wislawa Szymborska in her homonymous poem, and nothing is truer when it comes to disruption. 

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The Building the Future Commission

This year as well as news, features and comment pieces Building has run a series of articles to accompany the year-long Building the Future Commission.

BTFC 3x2

Since January we have been examining radical and challenging ideas that could unlock the potential of the construction industry with the help of our panel of commissioners and via a series of regional roundtable debates in partneship with Constructing Excellence.

The commission aims to tap into innovative ideas, amplify them and be an agent for change. The project has involved initiatives such as a Young Person’s Advisory Panel and consultation with the wider industry on ideas across eight topic areas, namely skills and education, energy and net zero, housing and planning, infrastructure, building safety, project delivery, workplace culture and leadership and creating communities.

The commission will publish its full report, with recommendations for change next month.

6. Can Lee Rowley, the 16th housing minister in 13 years, make a difference before the election?

Published November

lee rowley portrait

The past nine housing ministers have come and gone in the time it takes to get a large project to site, says Joey Gardiner. So what are the chances that the latest incumbent in the role can do what is required to pick the industry up off the floor?

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7. How Sir Robert McAlpine introduced flexible working to construction sites

Published February

mcalpine (2)

Sir Robert McAlpine teamed up with consultancy Timewise to understand how on-site construction could benefit from flexible working.

Over the past few months the firm has set up two trials, one at its Riverside scheme – an office job in Sunderland – and also at the Shepperton studios project in Surrey.

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8. What the second staircase rule would mean for high-rise blocks

Published February

cuba street ballymore

“If you had the choice, would you choose to live at the top of a 30m block with just one staircase?”

This question, posed by Suzannah Nichol, chief executive of Build UK to Building, cuts to the heart of the reasoning behind the government’s latest building safety announcement.

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9. Why Alinea turned its back on independence and signed up with T&T

Published February


Of all the things that were not supposed to happen when CBRE took a majority stake in Turner & Townsend a little over 18 months ago, T&T buying Alinea would be somewhere near the top of the list.

Back in the summer of 2021, when the US real estate giant paid nearly £1bn for a 60% controlling stake in the then 75-year-old UK consultant, the talk was that this would be another of those moments when new start-ups would emerge like they did when Aecom bought Davis Langdon or when Arcadis picked up EC Harris. New start-ups, like, well, Alinea.

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10. Meet the Korols: How one Ukrainian family found refuge in the UK construction sector

Published May


It seems almost inappropriate to talk about football in a time of war. But my interview with Ukrainian refugee Larisa Korol comes at the end of March, just a day after our respective countries’ showdown at Wembley, so the topic comes up as naturally as it might at any other time. “Not very good news for Ukraine,” the Odessa native laughs, recalling England’s comfortable 2-0 win.  

It was an unremarkable scoreline for a once-again-swaggering England team. More unusual was the sight of home and away fans mingling and the spirit of camaraderie on display as they spilled out onto Wembley Way. Though odd for a competitive home fixture, the atmosphere of warmth reflects the enthusiasm with which the British public has welcomed Ukrainians since the invasion of their country by the Russian army just over a year ago.  

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