This year's winner is at the heart of one of the world's most exciting regeneration stories. Today, property group Canary Wharf's estate in London Docklands is a vibrant mix of offices and shops, where carefully planned green spaces and bodies of water offset the frenetic activity of national newspapers and global investment banks. It's quite a transformation from the 1980s, when the area was a sad microcosm of post-industrial decline. Now, the cluster of office towers means the business district rivals the City. But Canary Wharf has tried to insulate itself against the ravages of the commercial property cycle by only developing one speculative project at a time, which means all but one of the office buildings going up on its estate have pre-lets. In early 2002, 92% of the group's 820,000 m2 of space under construction was committed.
'The rise and fall, and rise again, of Canary Wharf has been one of the great development stories of the past 20 years'
2nd - Cambridge University
Runner-up Cambridge University has been a construction client for eight centuries, and counts some of England's architectural treasures among its buildings. But today its feet are planted firmly in the 21st century, since its cutting-edge research in science and technology requires the very best facilities. It is in the midst of an £800m capital spending programme, and has proved adept at raising money from government science funds – not to mention Bill Gates.
'An unstinting commitment to patronising the best architects and cajoling them to produce their best work'
3rd - Peabody Trust
Housing association Peabody Trust sets the standard in innovative and sustainable residential building. Probably the most radical of its high-profile schemes was BedZED, a mixed-tenure zero-energy development in Surrey whose model could be rolled out nationwide by architect Bill Dunster. The trust has also pioneered modular construction with a series of London apartment blocks, continuing last year with Raines Dairy and Beaufort House.
'Everything a good client should be – engaged, innovative, principled and patient'
4th - BBC
The BBC will create the world's largest live news centre with its £250m redevelopment of Broadcasting House in central London. Due for completion in 2007, the scheme will house 5000 workers. The corporation is also upgrading its White City complex in west London. But its construction work is by no means confined to the capital, with plans to redevelop New Broadcasting House in Manchester and build a new home for BBC Scotland in Glasgow.
5th - Hammerson
Developer Hammerson has made its name with top-quality retail and office properties. Two of its high-profile retail schemes, Birmingham's Bull Ring and Martineaux Place, are nearing completion. Office developments coming on stream this year include One London Wall in the City, and 10 Grosvenor Street in London's West End. Although it concentrates on the UK, one-third of Hammerson's property portfolio is in other parts of Europe.
6th - Selfridges
Selfridges has transformed itself from a venerable London department store into a network of giant retail outlets across Britain. After setting up shop in Manchester in 1998, it opened a second store there last autumn, with each of the five floors designed by a different architect. The wraps have just come off the Birmingham store to reveal a strikingly futuristic edifice, and Japanese architect Toyo Ito is currently designing a £90m store in Glasgow.
Building Awards 2003
- Currently reading
Construction Client of the Year