Middle East Architect Awards

ME Architect Awards: winners’ reaction

All the winners’ comments from the Middle East Architect Awards 2011, held at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on Wednesday 14th September.

Best Overall Project of the Year
Rolex Tower, Dubai, SOM

George Efstathiou, consulting partner: “This is a fantastic prize for the building and the award is indicative of the quality design work that comes from our firm. It’s always great to be recognised by your peers. I think the probability of SOM getting architecture awards is good. We don’t win every award but we often get recognised.”

Large Architecture Firm of the Year
Woods Bagot

Alf Seeling, design director and principal: “We are overawed. Woods Bagot has been in the region for 12 years now and it feels good to be acknowledged for our input into this region. We are very dedicated. We now have over 100 people in our office but when we started out we only had three members of staff. Since the recession we have managed to keep our hold in the marketplace and that has made the company even stronger.”

Young Architect of the Year
Obada Adra, Atkins

“It was a shock to win because there were so many really large names in the running for the title. I have been working for Atkins for four years now and prior to that, I was in Syria for two years. I didn’t expect to win at all and it’s great to get this kind of recognition.”

Architect of the Year
George Efstathiou, SOM

“I can’t even describe how I feel. This is very special to me. I have worked for great clients in the Middle East and have been fortunate enough to have had the lead role on Burj Khalifa, but to be recognised by my peers away from home is truly a highlight of my career.”

Residential Project of the Year
Aino Mina, Afghanistan – Aedas

Michael Fowler, managing director, Middle East: “This is a very important award for us. Aedas is known for iconic towers, so this an opportunity to demonstrate quality in low-rise residential design.”

Commercial Project of the Year
King Abdullah Financial District, Saudi Arabia – Henning Larsen Architects

Mathilde Wehlen, marketing manager: “It has been a fantastic evening and I feel very proud to be working for Henning Larsen Architects. I hope that our clients Public Pensions Agency) and RIC (Rayadah Investment Company) are as happy and excited as I am to receive this prestigious prize.”

Hospitality & Leisure Project of the Year
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Benoy

Mike Lewis, Middle East director: “It has been a year since Ferrari World first opened so this recognition has been a long time coming and we are delighted. A lot of hard work went into the design and it was an extremely difficult project because of the economic downturn. There were lots of questions and debates and difficult meetings but Aldar gave it the backing it deserved and it’s there on the international sphere and we are very proud.”

Sustainable Project of the Year
Aino Mina, Afghanistan – Aedas

Michael Fowler, managing director, Middle East: “We certainly weren’t expecting to win two awards for this project. This is really incredible. We are thrilled that our efforts are recognised. Many people are pulling Afghanistan apart but this project is putting the country back together. Too many projects just use rating systems, such as LEED, as solutions for sustainability. We have protected the natural beauty of the site while conserving water, which is scarce, and introducing wind turbines and solar power.”

Public Sector, Institutional & Cultural Project of the Year
Institute of Diplomatic Studies, Saudi Arabia – Henning Larsen Architects

Mathilde Wehlen, marketing manager: “It’s a great night for Henning Larsen Architects and I am super excited to be here tonight representing our firm. The Institute of Diplomatic Studies in Riyadh is a beautiful project, designed for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and we really look forward to get it tendered out at the end of this year. Thank you once again for appreciating Henning Larsen’s work in the region.”

Middle East Building Information Modelling Award
Sawari Residences, Saudi Arabia – NAGA Architects

Shams Eldien Naga, principal, NAGA Architects and Dr Ahmed Elkady, Associate Director: “We were not sure if we would win. It was a really good job, but we were not sure at all. We have probably been pushing BIM in the last three years. We are confident that we are the best at it.”

Engineering Firm of the Year
Buro Happold

Roger Nickells, regional director: “Buro Happold has done well this year, picking up a number of awards. It has been a great year despite the challenging market. We are picking up a lot of work in aviation and sustainable master planning with Estidama. We have built up our reputation and local expertise on some of the region’s most stunning and complex structures and projects including Tameer Towers, Abu Dhabi; Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre, Kazakhstan; the Louvre, Abu Dhabi; Wadi Hanifah, Riyadh and King Abdulaziz Centre for World Knowledge and Culture, KSA.”

Boutique Architecture Firm of the Year

Edward Mayer, managing director, UAE: “We’re really happy. This award shows the dedication of the practice and the work we do. It is great to be recognised. We have some great clients that make it possible to realise buildings such as the  Museum of Built Environment in Saudi Arabia. Receiving this award reflects well on FXFOWLE, but it also reflects on our clients’ vision.”

Engineer of the Year
Andrea Scotti, Buro Happold

“I’m very happy to win this award. I think it was tough competition I wasn’t expecting to win. I’m currently very involved in the King Abdullah Financial District project that won an award earlier tonight, and I’ve just started another project with Woods Bagot, which I’m very happy about.”

Principal of the Year
Brian Johnson, GAJ

Keith Gavin, partner (collecting on behalf of Johnson): “I really think that Brian deserves this award. He has a lot of experience in the region and he is one of the stalwarts of Dubai’s architecture industry. He has a never say die attitude and he will bend over backwards to keep clients happy.”