Awards For Worthy Recipients

by Don Friedman on August 12, 2016

A random picture of our office location in 1906, before 111 Broadway’s fraternal twin at 115 Broadway was built:


The Institution of Structural Engineers in Britain (which serves the roles that in the United States are served by the NCSEA, the state Structural Engineers’ Associations, and the state licensing boards) has released its annual awards for structural engineering. The Oculus at the World Trade Center train station made the list.

I’d like to congratulate the winners, as that is an impressive list of projects from all over the world. Two of the sublists caught my eye: small practices and structural heritage. My interest in the second group of projects is obvious: it’s the field that we work in and I like to see what else is happening in it, to see what our peers are doing. I can daydream about being recognized on a future list. It’s also nice to see conservation work (“heritage” in UK usage) separated from ordinary renovation.

My interest in the first group, small practices, probably deserves some explanation. Most American awards of this type are based on project size, not firm size. A lot of good work is done by small firms – and despite the federal government’s classification, a firm with $14,000,000 in annual revenue is not small – and it’s hard for them (including us, of course) to be recognized when competing against firms ten or a hundred times their size. The IStrutE definition of a small practice – less than £1,000,000 (roughly $1,300,000 as of today) in annual revenue – is so low that we might lose that designation in a few years, but that’s okay, because it’s reasonable. So I like this list because it fairly separates small firms from medium and big ones.

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