Built environment stars shine at ACE awards

Winners celebrate success a the Consultancy and Engineering Awards 2023

Outstanding achievements from the built environment sector have been honoured by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering at its 2023 awards.

The glittering event shone the spotlight on the people and companies raising the bar with exciting projects ranging from modular bridge design and new low traffic neighbourhoods to a system that converts dancers’ body heat into energy. 

A big winner on the night was Ramboll, taking four awards including the Best Large UK Consultancy of the Year and the Best Innovation and Technology Project for its leadership in modular bridge design. 

The Best Social Value Project prize was awarded to the Fest Hub, founded by Ramboll civil engineer Emmanuel Afolabi to raise awareness amongst aspiring footballers of the possibility of careers outside the game in STEM and construction.

The one-of-a-kind initiative brings together football, education and STEM to inspire young people from disadvantaged communities. 

Ramboll’s Peter Curran, who has designed and overseen a staggering portfolio of high-profile bridge projects during his 40 years in consulting engineering, was also honoured with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Philippa Spence, Ramboll’s UK managing director, said she and the team were “ecstatic” about the night’s achievements. 

“The market has been challenging for the last few years, but we have looked after each other and worked hard – so to see that recognized is incredibly satisfying, it’s a real boost for the team,” she said.

“These awards allow us the opportunity to take stock – and celebrate.”

Other global winners included AECOM, for the Best Transport Project, which recognised its work on Leith Connections with the City of Edinburgh Council. 

This project started out as part of the business case for the Edinburgh Tram network, to provide a segregated cycle route through Leith.

Through AECOM, the project has since developed into a neighbourhood-wide scheme, delivering multi-disciplinary sustainable designs that will improve safety and connectivity across the region.

Paul Matthews, regional director at AECOM, said the company was “delighted” to win.

“Leith Connections is a great example of the wide-ranging benefits a collaborative approach to delivery can bring to communities,” he said.

“Starting out as a new segregated cycle route, our multidisciplinary team worked with City of Edinburgh Council to broaden its scope, creating a low traffic neighbourhood, improved accessibility, new public realm, and sustainable urban drainage features that transform the area.”

Mott MacDonald was named Inclusive Employer of the Year recognising its range of progressive EDI policies and initiatives.  

Best Sustainability Project went to Harley Haddow for its BODYHEAT system, which enables entertainment venues to reuse the heat generated by active occupants – such as people on dancefloors - and lighting and speaker systems. 

The heat is recovered and stored in a series of subsurface boreholes, acting as a large thermal battery.

BODYHEAT already allows SWG3, a megavenue in Glasgow, to store recovered heat for days, weeks or months and reverse the process to re-use the energy to keep the building operational.

Stephen Marcos Jones, chief executive of ACE, said it had been a memorable and inspirational night.

“It’s always fascinating and a real eye opener to learn about the diverse major infrastructure and built environment projects taking place throughout the UK during these awards,” he said.

“All 12 awards categories celebrated winners and the highly commended members who can feel rightly proud of their achievements and the work they are doing to solve some of the UK’s biggest challenges today.

“With a general election in the offing, we’re all looking at what will make the best future and I’m confident that our winners will be intrinsic to the shape of UK infrastructure moving forward in 2024 and towards achieving global net zero goals.”

The awards were held on January 18 and presented by Amol Rajan, an esteemed news presenter and known to many as host of University Challenge. 

Held at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London Tower Bridge, the 2023 awards coincided with ACE’s 110th anniversary celebrations.

The winners and highly commended organisations and individuals were:

  • Best Sustainability Project – Harley Haddow. Highly Commended – Ramboll
  • Best Innovation and Technology Project – Ramboll. Highly Commended – WSP
  • Best Transport Project – AECOM. Highly commended – Narro
  • Best Social Value Project – Ramboll. Highly commended – Mott MacDonald and WSP
  • Inclusive Employer of the Year – Mott MacDonald. 
  • Apprentice of the Year – Ben Wilcox, BWB Consulting. Highly commended - Brendan Luke Wagstaff, Mott MacDonald.
  • Emerging Professional of the Year – Lily Erskine, Narro. Highly commended – Daniel Ross, Harley Haddow and Alex Craddock, Ramboll.
  • Best UK Consultancy (Micro) – GB Card and Partners
  • Best UK Consultancy (Small) – X Buro
  • Best UK Consultancy (Medium) – Goodson Associates
  • Best UK Consultancy (Large) – Ramboll
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Peter Curran, Ramboll

Click here to see more images from the Consultancy and Engineering Awards 2023. 

If you would like to contact Karen McLauchlan about this, or any other story, please email