Winner: Webb Yates Engineers
Webb Yates Engineers impressed the judges with its take on what constitutes a forward-thinking consultant.
Central to the company’s philosophy is tackling the fragmentation between the construction industry’s disciplines.
The firm argues that these disciplines are consistently siloed, either by engineering firms only employing engineers and architectural practices hiring only architects, or by multi-discipline companies splitting skillsets into separate departments.
To address this, Webb Yates aims to employ skilled people from different disciplines and combine their talents.
Accordingly, the company offers a combined engineering and architectural service, and has recently added MEP to the mix. Its offices are set up so that these skillsets can work hand in glove in one environment.
The company used its presentation to illustrate this to the judging panel: one of its two presenters was an architect studying for an engineering degree to better understand the calculative side of her design role.
The judges heard how this culture of knowledge transfer allows the firm to embrace challenges when designing in-house, rather than subcontracting work out.
“A lot of people talk about collaboration, but here is a company that has set a new bar”
The panel found it refreshing to hear how the company is innovating with materials to position itself as a leader in the use of post-tensioned stone.
Webb Yates has also challenged conventional views on construction methods, such as the thermal mass required in concrete. On one project where the client expected to require a 300 mm slab, Webb Yates proposed a slimmer one based on only the first 50 mm having a bearing on its thermal properties, and that timber could be used for additional structural support.
The company’s project portfolio expanded during 2017, with the team appointed as engineer on the Kilo apron development thanks to established relationships with Heathrow Airport stakeholders.
Construction also began on the £10m renovation of London’s Grade II-listed Hoover Building. For this job, Webb Yates managed to add 14 residencies in the wings of the building, which other firms had deemed unachievable due to structural constraints. The judges noted that this addition would likely make the difference between the developer making a profit rather than a loss.
The judging panel was equally delighted to see that Webb Yates had voluntarily submitted sector-leading gender pay gap statistics ahead of the government’s deadline. These showed an 8.8 per cent mean pay gap (compared with an industry average of around 30 per cent), with the company acknowledging there was still more work to be done.
Overall, the judges felt Webb Yates represented a refreshing new kind of business.
- Bond Davidson
- Eckersley O’Callaghan
- Peter Brett Associates
- Pick Everard