Structural Engineering Excellence Awards

At its biennial conference, on 22 June 2023, the Society presented 6 awards in recognition of outstanding achievement in the advancement of structural engineering design and construction.

At the Awards Function, SESOC President Nicholas Brooke said that the broad range and high quality of entries to this year’s awards gave the judges a challenging task, but demonstrated that New Zealand structural engineers continue to strive for, and achieve, excellence for their clients and for society.

The Supreme Award was won by Aurecon for the Auckland Chief Post Office.
The judges were impressed by all aspects of the project, including attention to heritage considerations, infrastructure planning, construction complexity, interactions with the public, and sustainable construction practices.

The Building Award was won by Holmes NZ LP for Te Pae, the Christchurch Convention Centre. The judging panel considered this project to be a clever structural execution of a particularly complex building with demanding constraints and delivered to a fast-track programme and were impressed with the professional, coordinated and forward-thinking project delivery.

The Infrastructure Award was won by Beca for Peka Peka to Otaki Expressway Project Bridges. This submission addressed a 13 km section of the new Kāpiti Expressway between Peka Peka and Ōtaki that incorporated seven precast concrete beam road bridges, two steel beam road bridges, two concrete underpasses, five concrete pedestrian bridges and several large culverts. Patterns on concrete fascia panels were developed through consultation with local iwi and community groups to provide cultural narratives, and exposed aggregate finishes are used to reduce graffiti.
Structural seismic design addressed complex geometry, high seismicity, and soft soils, and several accelerated bridge construction techniques were incorporated into the project.

The Structural Sustainablity Award was won by McConnell Dowell for the Old Māngere Bridge Replacement – Ngā Hau Māngere. McConnell Dowell is the first ever winner of the SESOC Structural Sustainability Award and is recognised for the delivery of a complex piece of infrastructure which also engaged sustainable design principles across material use, social engagement and environmental impacts. The new walking and cycling connection links the communities of Onehunga and Mangere bridge via the eye-catching outward inclining tied arch supported on V-shaped piers which seamlessly transition between the steel and concrete structures.

The Structural Heritage and Cultural Award was won by Holmes NZ LP for the Christ Church Cathedral Stabilisation. The judges were extremely impressed by the calibre of entries that required consideration in the heritage and culture category. Numerous entries had noteworthy aspects, with judges awarding commendations to:

  • Beca for the St James Theatre & Ballet Building
  • Holmes for the Observatory Hotel
  • Jacobs for the Auckland Zoo South East Asia Jungle Track, and
  • Jenson McArley for the HB Central Strengthening and Refurbishment

However, the winning entry stood out due to its unique technical challenges, high profile, and demanding health and safety scenario. The judges considered that the project demonstrated outstanding attention to detail and rigour, and was a model for approaching challenging engineering in a collaborative manner to draw on the strengths and expertise of all parties involved. The need to overcome immense health and safety challenges and unfavourable ground conditions presented significant challenges. The outcome of the project has secured one of New Zealand’s iconic structures for generations to come.

The Small Practice Award was won by Morrison Design for the Wellington Town Hall Main Auditorium Scaffold. This project was an elegant and innovative temporary works design that utilised standard scaffolding components to provide a clear spanning platform that enabled long term restoration work to be undertaken on the existing ceiling. The designers adapted an unproven overseas concept to provide a structure spanning the Wellington Town Hall Main Auditorium.
The judging panel determined that recognition is deserved by taking this idea and turning it into a robust yet economical structural design. The scaffold went beyond industry minimum requirements and exceeded the expectations of the client by making significant improvements to the construction programme.