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Diversity on display in Awards shortlist

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The Structural Steel Design Awards reaches a significant landmark in 2018, it’s 50th year of showcasing the best of steel construction. The shortlisted projects can be found in this month’s News section, and next month, following the awards ceremony, we will detail the projects deemed worthy of Awards by the independent judges.

As always, the shortlist shows an amazing diversity of project types that have enjoyed steel’s advantages including major commercial developments, Jaguar Land Rover’s new engine manufacturing centre, several bridges, the London Bridge railway station redevelopment, and a low carbon energy centre.

We hope you have enjoyed our series of articles this year that looked at how steel has played a central role in the development of the UK’s built environment over the decades since the SSDA started 50 years ago. The series ends this month with a look at the achievements of the 2010’s, featuring the Olympic Stadium at Stratford, now called the London Stadium and used as a Premier League football stadium by West Ham United FC, and two 30 metre high equine sculptures – The Kelpies – that have become a landmark attracting thousands of visitors to their Forth & Clyde canalside location.

There is no doubt that the SSDA has been a huge success in showcasing the best that the UK’s architects, engineers and steelwork contractors can achieve with constructional steelwork. What will the awards look like in another 50 years? We live in a rapidly changing world and little can be taken for granted about the future. The way that we design and build and the uses to which our buildings and other structures will be put will doubtlessly evolve, probably in ways as yet unforeseen. But ongoing investment and innovation by the structural steelwork sector will guarantee steel’s place in the future built environment, even 50 years from now.

Evolution in the natural world suggests that adaptability to a changing environment is a key survival skill. In the built environment adaptability and versatility are likely to also be keys to future success. Evidence of steel’s versatility is seen in every issue of NSC, where many exemplary award-winning SSDA projects are first highlighted.

In this issue, the use of cellular beams is featured in the third major steel-framed building at Birmingham’s Snowhill development; weathering steel is seen being used at the major Heron Quays development in London’s docklands; and tubular steel is employed at Headingley’s new stand. The benefits delivered by these three varying uses of steel alone would be hailed as revolutionary if they could suddenly be claimed today as new attributes of any other building material. But for steel they are everyday and unique benefits, delivered along with a host of other advantages affecting matters like sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and the built in future-proofing of steel’s inherent flexibility.

One constant in the changing construction world of the last 50 years has been the presence of BCSA members as steelwork contractors involved in the biggest and most challenging of the SSDA’s award-winning projects. It doesn’t require a crystal ball to forecast that employing a BCSA member with the right skills, qualifications and experience will continue to be the best way of ensuring successful delivery of the sort of project that will earn success in these unique awards.

Nick Barrett

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