Winner: Eckersley O’Callaghan
In an industry where the word ‘specialist’ is frequently tossed around, Eckersley O’Callaghan stands out.
Transparent in its ambition to be the global leader in structural glass and envelope engineering, it believes it has already achieved this and cites a Queens Award for Enterprise in the category of Innovation as one endorsement.
“2014 has by far been our most significant year yet,” says founding director Brian Eckersley.
This saw it working on the Apple Zorlu building in Istanbul, a façade design that reflects the actual packaging Apple uses for its iPod products.
Last year was a watershed for the business in commission scale across the structures and facades teams.
Jobs included the Apple Campus project in California with Foster and Partners, with a construction cost valued at $5bn (£3.2bn); a high-end residential development in Toronto consisting of two 92-storey towers; and a large new-build corporate headquarters building in the US.
“Through being highly integrated with the architect and the supply chain they have pushed forward the state of the art of engineering with glass, creating amazing results. All this is enabled by a strong commitment to training, development and staff culture”
While a small firm with a £5.5m turnover, EOC believes its 10-year relationship with Apple and the understanding both have of each other has been a successful incubator for engineering innovation, while achieving a level of client satisfaction many would aspire to.
EOC generally makes a profit margin of about 30 per cent and is continually looking for growth through advancing its technical offering, reinvesting 10 per cent of that margin into R&D.
It has had mutually beneficial relationships downstream as well as upstream, however.
One such tie-up has seen EOC maintaining its technical edge with supplier Beijing North Glass in developing new manufacturing techniques for products such as large curved panes – a process that took many iterations and trips to China to perfect, but one the supplier is now able to exploit with other customers.
Ingenuity and collaboration of this kind mean the consultant is able to design column-free spans where lightweight roofs are supported on structural façades.
More recently the firm has spread its risk and now relies on Apple for just 20 per cent of its turnover.
Mr Eckersley and co-founding director James O’Callaghan are keen to point out that a large proportion of turnover comes from “unsexy” work in sectors that include commercial and education.
That said, Mr Eckersley adds almost as an afterthought that the firm is also active in the high-end marine world.
Highly Commended: BDP
BDP caught the judges’ eye with its efforts to create “digital engineers” and implement the cultural change required by building information modelling.
The company makes every effort to encourage strong communication with other stakeholders, while also demonstrating a pragmatic approach to its work and relationships.
“BDP has demonstrated a commitment to sustainability and a marriage between the digital engineer and conversational sketching. It is refreshing to see artistic flair in an engineering discipline that also has a great culture and commitment to sustainability”
The firm has recorded impressive 12 per cent growth in 2014, taking it to £66m, with 15 per cent predicted for this year.
This revenue has been driven by some technically demanding projects.
At the 60 Victoria Embankment refurbishment for JP Morgan, BDP led the client precisely through what it was doing and what it was paying for.
Beverley Clifton Morris (BCM)
Peter Brett Associates
Tony Gee and Partners