Reconstruction Awards How to Win Tip Sheet

August 11, 2010

The goal of BD&C’s Reconstruction Awards is to find the best projects, based on: 1) Overall design, engineering, and construction quality 2) How your team solved problems, met client needs, and produced a project with enhanced social, economical, cultural, and community value. Here are some tips to help you win:

 

1.Think “50-50.”BD&C’s Reconstruction Awards are judged by the editors and a distinguished panel of architects, engineers, contractors, developers, and academics. We’re looking for two things: 1) Design/engineering/construction quality, craftsmanship, ingenuity, and excellence + 2) how your team of architects, engineers, contractors, CMs, subs, building owners, developers, government officials, etc.) addressed the client’s needs, solved tough technical problems, and created a finished product of added value to society. To win, your project has to excel in both areas.

2.Describe “obstacles,” “challenges,” “issues,” “problems” + how your team solved them. How did the team attack the problems posed by the project? Any new approaches? Innovations? Remember, give results, both quantitative ($$$ saved, time saved, profitability, etc.) and qualitative (testimonials, quotes from satisfied client, other “soft” evidence of success). Tell us what lessons you learned from the project.

3.Tell the “story” of the project. Winning projects should have a compelling story—how a project got built in record time, how you overcame catastrophes, how you solved unexpected problems that came up in the course of the project. Yes, we want the technical information, but make sure the “human-interest story” doesn’t get lost in your presentation.

4.Let your images “sell” your entry. We get a lot of entries with lovely photos, diagrams, floor plans, etc., but with no explanation of how these items add to your case for winning. Every photo and image you submit should illustrate an important point about your project. Put all your images on a CD, and print them out on a separate sheet—with captions explaining what point the photo or image illustrates. Why did you choose this photo or diagram? How does it advance your entry? Very important: Use your images to make your case and sell your project to the judges.

5.Be specific in describing how your team solved problems. We get a lot of entries that say, “We held weekly meetings of the Building Team.” Sorry, that’s baseline! We want to know more detail about how you worked together, especially how you worked with the owner, end users, and stakeholders, not just the A/E/C team. What kind of effort did you put into getting their views and implementing them? It’s important to describe how you met the client’s needs, not your own goals.

6.Describe “end user,” “client,” “customer,” and “public” involvement in detail. If you’re submitting a hospital project, how was the nursing staff involved? How about patients and their families? For a retail project—did you do any research on customer needs or preferences? For a museum or a school, did you involve families and children and teachers in the planning and decision making? For public projects, how did you keep taxpayers, government officials, and ordinary citizens involved?

Entries that demonstrate a strong commitment to assessing and meeting the needs of the ultimate “end users” (not just the one who’s paying the bill) often win.

7.Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Of course, we’re not interested in getting entries with inflated claims. But the judges do need to justify their decision, and you have the most complete information about your project.

So, let us know if the project has won other awards. Include press clippings, reprints, etc. Get letters of support and testimonials from end users and clients, but make them specific—not “The team did a great job and were a pleasure to work with,” but “Through clever design and rigorous engineering and reconstruction methods, the team saved our city $1.3 million in costs on this project.”

8.Show how you went beyond standard practice. Did your Building Team find an unusual solution to a problem? For example, did you develop a performance-based answer to a technical problem that went beyond the conventional design, engineering, or construction methods? Tell us how you “beat” the local building code or convinced a client to try an unusual technical solution. Our readers are interested in what’s new.

9.You can supply financial information confidentially, if necessary. We understand that certain clients are sensitive about revealing financial details. Although we prefer to have all financial information included in the entry, if you have a situation where the client demands confidentiality, you may write “Confidential at Client Request” in the appropriate spaces on the entry form.

However, to be eligible, you must also send, under separate cover, a single copy of the financial information to: Robert Cassidy, Editor, BD&C, 2000 Clearwater Dr., Oak Brook, IL 60523. As BD&C’s editor, I promise to keep the details of this information confidential and will only supply “ranges” of information to the judges as needed to help in their deliberations. Should your project win, the financial information will not be published in BD&C. This procedure is necessary to ensure that we are fair to all entries and the judges have enough information to do their job.

10.Put yourself in the judges’ shoes. Ask yourself: Have I made a compelling case for this project? Is there a logic to the presentation? Is it readable? Is the type large enough? Did I make it easy for the judges to grasp our argument?

We’re not interested in fancy presentations. Use yellow marker to highlight key points. Point arrows à to crucial details in drawings or photos. Underline key points. Use boldface type. Use big type.

Use big boldface type!

We have a lot of entries to review … make it easy for the judges to read yours.

One last bit of advice: Ask someone who is not familiar with the project to read your entry. If that person has questions, you might want to rework your submission.

Good luck!

         
 

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