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ISE rewards the biggest and best

The Institution of Structural Engineers has handed out a string of awards to some of the biggest, tallest and most impressive structures from around Europe.

The ISE gave its main 'special' award to Marks Barfield's 135m diameter BA London Eye - design engineer Arup, 'checking engineer' Babtie Allot & Lomax. The project was a 'spectacular public showcase of structural engineering achievement', said the judges, and the embodiment of the ISE's vision statement.

A special commendation went to another unique structure - the 72,500-seater Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The scheme, branded a 'structural engineering tour de force' and a 'bold inescapable structural statement', is the first stadium in the UK with a retractable roof and the largest in Europe. Designed by HOK & Lobb Sports Architecture with structural engineer WS Atkins, it played host to football's Worthington Cup Final last weekend - although the opening mechanism of the roof malfunctioned in the build-up.

Further special commendations went to Price & Myers for the 'understated' Millennium Pedestrian Bridge in Dublin, designed by Howley Harrington Architects; and to Hyder Consulting for the Emirates Towers, the twin-towered 335m offices and 307m high hotel designed by Norr Group Consultants.

The institution gave its Structural Achievement Award to another mammoth construction project - the 'remarkable' Cargo Lifter Airship Hangar in Brand, Germany. The massive structure is 363m long, 225m wide and 107m high, featuring doors 3of space, enough to house two airships. Arup was the engineer, SIAT of Munich the architect.

Other awards included a structural heritage prize for Price & Myers again, for the Haworth Tompkins-designed Royal Court Theatre redevelopment in London; Oscar Faber for the Triangle in Manchester, designed by the Ratcliffe Partnership; and WSP for the Sainsbury's Millennium Store in Greenwich, designed by Chetwood Associates as part of a push towards lower-energy retail stores. Sainsbury's is monitoring the building's performance and there will be further surveys on users' attitudes to the naturally lit building.

Arup clinched the David Alsop Award for the Michael Hopkins and Partners-designed Portcullis House in Westminster, despite the fact that the controversial £250 million offices - set to be opened by the Queen this week - were criticised by chancellor Gordon Brown last week as an unjustifiable expense.

Another Arup name, former board member Dr Duncan Michael, won the Royal Gold Medal, while another still, 27-year-old Clare Gardiner, scooped the first Young Structural Engineer of the Year Award. Gardiner has worked on a range of Hopkins-designed buildings, including the SAGA headquarters in Folkestone, Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh and Portcullis House in Westminster.

She is now working on the design of the roof for the new Terminal Five building at Heathrow Airport, still the subject of a planning inquiry.

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