How (not) to win awards

Mark Middleton

Too many practices fall into the same traps, says Mark Middleton who has been both judge and competitor over the years

Awards are great, especially if you win one. The surprise and delight on the face of Jamie Fobert after receiving top honours at BD’s Architect of the Year Awards this month was testament to that.

Because firms are always in competition with each other, many members of the architectural fraternity find it hard to celebrate the success of their peers. But there wasn’t any grumbling to be heard in the bar after the AYAs. Instead there was love for all the winners and, with a broad sweep of available awards, there seemed to be something for every facet of the industry. Personal vanity aside, winning an award is significant. It announces that you’ve arrived at certain stage in your career and serves as a great sign of a practice’s progress.

My only real gripe with awards is the paucity of venues for the ceremony itself. I dread the familiar trudge down the steps of that hotel on Park Lane in my tuxedo, particularly if it’s a wider construction industry event that feels more reminiscent of a bouncers’ convention. On these occasions, I’ve often found myself wishing for a spectacularly inappropriate after-dinner speaker. Someone who uses too many expletives or insults the hosts to liven things up. That said, the bad ones are the exception and when that finely honed piece of plastic/steel/glass is sitting in your reception you won’t remember the underwhelming three-course meal.

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