1300-strong audience watches PM’s first speech on construction at Grosvenor House Hotel.
An address by Tony Blair, his first on construction since becoming prime minister, was the highlight of last week’s sixth Building Awards.

Blair’s prerecorded speech was screened to the record 1300-strong audience at the awards, staged in the Great Room of the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Park Lane.

As Building reported last week, Blair’s main theme was the need to improve the design and construction quality of public buildings, to restore the Edwardian era of civic pride. There were gasps around the audience when Blair appeared on huge video screens around the central stage, and a huge round of applause at the end of his four-minute address.

Chief secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Smith, and leading environmentalist Jonathan Porritt also presented video messages.

The awards were attended by construction minister Beverley Hughes, who presented the DETR’s Construction Best Practice Award to contractor Mansell (below). Hughes described how Mansell had “built its business around best practice” by developing key performance indicators, obtaining Investors in People accreditation, and establishing a “very strong track record in strategic partnering”.

The 15 other Building Awards were compèred by Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye and the perennially losing captain on BBC2’s Have I Got News For You. Hislop had the audience in stitches with his behind-the-scenes tales from the series, and his barbs against the planning system, which he recently fell foul of after making alterations to his listed house in Kent.