This year's winner scooped the prize for excellence in building impossible buildings, ambitious overseas expansion and, of course, furniture design
This category was open to engineering consultancies or firms who offered a variety of services but from an engineering led base. All branches of engineering within the built environment were eligible to enter. The judges were looking for evidence of success during 2008.
“In every discipline Arup stand out.” So said the judges of this £725m-turnover firm. The list of its outstanding projects include the California Academy of Science, which is a flagship of sustainability, the unforgettable Beijing “Bird's Nest” stadium, and the gobsmacking China Central Television headquarters, one of the tallest buildings in Beijing. In pursuit of international work, Arup opened offices in Guangzhou, Wuhan, Mumbai, St Petersburg, Rome, Abu Dhabi and New Jersey over the past year, and now has in excess of 10,000 staff working out of more than 90 offices in 37 countries. But Arup hasn't limited itself to buildings alone. A collaboration between its product designers and a Swedish furniture company resulted in Bench F, a flexible and sustainable range of office furniture that allows you to adjust individual segments according to your needs. How's that for multi-tasking?
Throughout last year Atkins led the industry on critical issues such as sustainable design, the UK transport network and closing the skills gap. As part of its commitment to responding to climate change, it has made emissions reduction central to all its projects in the UK and abroad. Its report on the future of high-speed railways drew widespread media coverage and led to it briefing political parties and the Scottish parliament. It also invested in improving health and safety by producing a DVD that highlighted the reasons for a near-miss accident on the rail network. Furthermore, it tried to challenge preconceptions about who can work in the built environment sector by commissioning research to demonstrate the advantages of flexible working.
Cundall anticipated the downturn as long ago as 2006. Its response was to focus on UK public sector work and broaden its regional spread to help it cope. As a result, 2007/8 was a successful year - so much so that it grew 27%. It is this foresight that explains how in five years Cundall has evolved from a mid-sized practice into a worldwide organisation with 15 offices in eight countries. On all its projects it thinks about how the building will serve its users in the future. Just some of the futureproof projects it completed last year were New Street Square in London, the luxurious eco-resort Porto Island in Dubai and the refurbishment of 180 Great Portland Street.
- Faber Maunsell
The building industry is most often defined by its products, but Faber Maunsell has subverted this idea and, instead, emphasises the importance of its people. And given the range of medals and awards its staff have won in recent years, you can see why. Of course, a strong team leads to a strong portfolio of work and this engineer's projects over the past 12 months include the refurbishment of the BBC's Broadcasting House and the BREEAM “excellent” rated Morrisons supermarket in Kidderminster.
- Mott MacDonald
Mott MacDonald grew turnover 20% to £900m over the past year and increased its global workforce by 15% to 14,700. It worked on 16,000 projects in 140 countries and ended the year with a record order book. If the numbers aren't enough reason for its nomination, it also made breakthroughs in innovative building techniques. Its Bahrain city centre mall included an impressive 40m glazed atrium and the largest indoor climate-controlled water park in the Middle East. And as part of its social responsibilities it is helping to reconstruct a school in Bangladesh.
- WSP Group
Last year was a groundbreaking one for WSP. Half-year revenue was up 40% and half-year profit rose £26m. It secured a number of high-profile projects across the world and in diverse sectors, including the Nakheel tower, currently under construction in Dubai, Northumbia university's campus and footbridge and a £320m, eight-year sustainable transport contract for Northamptonshire council, which is its biggest contract win to date. It also relaunched its graduate development scheme, which aims to help graduates become trained, obtain professional qualification, get experience and develop their careers.