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Award entries on rising trend

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Living in interesting times as we do, it is good to see the Structural Steel Design Awards come around again with a range of first class projects that demonstrate advances in design, innovation and fabrication.

Much has changed in the year since the last awards, with UK steelmaking undergoing a restructure and the referendum to exit the EU in June. The structural steelwork sector has come through the year in fine shape, experiencing no issues around the supply of high quality raw steel and a study by KPMG concluding there is sufficient structural steelwork capacity in the UK to meet current as well as future demand.

The number of entries to the awards rose this year. The quality of entries is there for all to see, and seems to be rising over time even as we see, as Chairman of the Judges David Lazenby pointed out, an increase in the complexity of modern projects. The judges’ comments on the Award winners repeatedly focus on how steel construction was used to overcome technical challenges imposed by boundary pushing designs, logistics or site constraints.

All the shortlisted projects were, uniquely among award schemes of this type, visited by judges.  And all of them have strong merits and a strong case for an Award – but the Awards only go to those that catch the judges’ attention as being a cut above the others and that show steel construction at its finest.

As always there has been a wide geographic spread. There is also an encouragingly wide spread of type and size of project among the award winners – major sports arenas, education buildings, museums, a national memorial, energy schemes and no fewer than five footbridges. It is notable that constructional steelwork is benefitting ancient structures like Harlech Castle and modern growth industries like energy from waste, creating new icons such as the Bomber Command Memorial Spire as well as extending and reviving older commercial buildings and large stadiums.

The 2016 SSDA shortlisted projects all exemplify the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, high aesthetics, sustainability and innovation that structural steelwork routinely delivers. They instil confidence that next year’s entries will continue the trend of improving excellence in steel construction.

Nick Barrett

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