CHAIRMAN'S OVERVIEW

This year’s winners illustrate an appropriateness for market and purpose.

The BCO awards continue to evolve and respond to our changing environment, now building on regional chapters holding successful awards presentations and the national awards focusing on the winners being generated through this process of celebration.

After a peak in 2009, a slight reduction in the number of overall entries reflects the national economy but the quality of the buildings and the integrity of the submissions illustrate the esteem in which the BCO awards are held.

Notwithstanding economics, the industry can be proud of the results of recent labours, with this year’s winners in particular showing a keen eye to appropriateness for market and purpose.

The BCO is committed to the continual improvement of the submission and judging process. All panels continue to seek out projects that illustrate a combination of excellence from the client and professional team, clarity of purpose in the brief and the setting of objectives, ingenuity of product, clever design solutions where appropriate, and delivery on time and budget. “Lifting the spirits” also remains a fundamental aspect of deliberations; that special aspect of a project that makes it a delightful and productive place of work.

The judging panels, regional and national, seek to achieve a blend representing different skills and opinions. It is this blend that makes the process of judging so interesting and, importantly, enables all entries to be appraised in a balanced manner but always with rigorous debate and without favour. The important roles that the judges have within their own firms inevitably leads to situations where a panel can be judging a building built, designed or engineered by one of the judges. Where such potential conflicts arise, no part is taken by that judge in the process.

Special emphasis is placed on the ability of the workplace to support the occupier’s current and known future business needs and, of course, a growing forensic attention to sustainability and cost in use.

The judges enjoyed visiting the many projects that addressed and embraced these objectives. While there remain a small minority that disappointingly have not sought any form of sustainable or energy use accreditation, there was also a growing number of buildings juggling BREEAM, EPCs and also LEED. While it is positive that project teams seek to embrace appropriate categorisation, this also highlights potential confusion for the target audience, something the BCO can help us address and influence.

In terms of the winners themselves, the Commercial Workplace category, in particular, proved to be a closely fought battle and it was encouraging to see the continued emergence of speculative buildings setting standards for the industry as a whole.

Following the growth in the commercial development industry prior to the recession, the judges were also presented with a number of projects now home to leading professional practices of architects, engineers, agents and other. It was heartening to see that in every case the teams sought to use their own place of business as an exemplar of their approach and values.

All in all, the average standard for submissions continues to improve and the one aspect that runs through time and time again in the entries of 2010 was the growing ability of client, whether occupier, developer or investor, to deliver projects which align acutely with their needs – whether for a market or operational needs.

John Forrester, DTZ
BCO Awards Chairman

Click here to find out more about the National Awards Dinner 2010.