In this special award, all shortlisted firms were evaluated on their health and safety practices, product value, people policies, project collaboration, culture of continuous improvement and sustainability. And the prize goes to …


Taylor Woodrow

This award is given to the company that best fulfils the six criteria for judging whether a firm has made the transition to the new construction industry. Notice that they do not depend on outputs and bottom lines so much as the relationship that a company develops with the people who work for and with it, and the environment around it. The judges commented that Taylor Woodrow scored "very highly" on all six criteria, and that all three of its entries in the awards were "very strong" - with the firm taking home the prize in the major contractor category. It's not hard to see why, particularly when you read the responses we got when we contacted a random selection of Taywood's clients. These commented on its mastery of people skills - its "excellent teamwork", the "excellent working relationship" formed an "outstanding example of how client and contractor can work together", its "strong working relationship", its "approachability and flexibility", its "open approach" and its "supportiveness". Enough said?

Taylor Woodrow showed England-Ashes-winning-style teamwork in 2005, particularly in building the Brit Oval stand

Taylor Woodrow showed England-Ashes-winning-style teamwork in 2005, particularly in building the Brit Oval stand

Runners up


It's a sign of the strength of the mighty Atkins that it managed to make it onto this shortlist without having won an individual category - the first time that this has happened. Its uniquely successful 60-year history is founded on its ability to combine excellence in administration, design and engineering with the soft skills that turn a bunch of disparate individuals into a single team. Atkins' term for this is relationship management, the aim of which is to understand the goals of its clients and find ways of collaborating with suppliers and joint venture partners. The proof of this is that its rate of repeat business stands at almost 80%. Its own staff benefit from a careers charter that encourages them to develop their career by talking openly and looking for other places that they can move within the Aktins group. As regards the environment, the practice says its inclusion of wind turbines in its landmark Bahrain World Trade Centre, which is currently under construction, is a world first.

Bennetts Associates

The practice was always going to be a strong contender for this award. Not only is it one of the best regarded and best liked practices in Britain, but it has impeccable environmental credentials. Of course there is last year's Jubilee Library in Brighton, a building that obtains most of its heat, light and ventilation from sunshine and sea breezes. Then there is the Greenhouse scheme in the King's Cross regeneration project. This is will accommodate Jonathan Porritt's Forum for the Future and the International Institute for Environment and Development, so the container had to be as ecologically friendly as the thing contained. But we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Bennetts Associates' work also looks great - witness the design for the Islington Tower in the City Road Basin by the Regent's Canal. Then there is the feedback from those who have worked with the practice, and the firm's own commitment to open, collaborative design.

Davis Langdon

This firm now towers above the profession formerly known as quantity surveying like a colossus: over the past 12 months it has won more than twice as much work as its nearest rival. The firm attributes its own success to the breadth and depth of its knowledge of how the built environment gets built, and its ability to put itself in its clients shoes. For one thing, it is large enough to offer a global service to global companies. Of course, that won't get you very far unless you can actual do the work to a high standard, and in this respect, Davis Langdon has been in the forefront of those working on ways to improved supply-chain agreements, collaborative working on site, rationalisation of the clients' programmes and specifications to reduce supply side risk - and is currently collecting the data to show how much money can be saved.