Medical research facility wins top RICS Award

Fiona Grant, RICS UK & Ireland Chair, congratulates representatives of the Project of the Year, the Wellcome Wolfson Institute at the awards ceremony in the La Mon Hotel & Country Club. They are John Nugent (left) of Queen’s University Belfast, and Colm Lavery (far right) or Turner & Townsend. The winning team was also joined by RICS NI Chairman, Andy Tough. The RICS NI Awards 2016 took place at La Mon on Friday 06 May and were hosted by Gary McCausland.

The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, situated in the grounds of Belfast City Hospital, won the Design through Innovation award before being crowned Project of the Year at the annual awards, which showcase and reward projects from across Northern Ireland.

The £32m Institute is the latest phase in the configuration of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences and has been designed to enhance its internationally recognised excellence in education and research.

The 9,000 square metre building provides accommodation for some 330 members of staff specialising in research into finding cures for eye diseases and diabetes, and the development of a global programme to aid understanding of the genetics of complex chronic diseases.

Alan Stitt, Director of the Centre for Experimental Medicine commented “… the open and free-flow design of the building offers a positive change in the working environment, which enhances the development of cross-disciplinary collaborations and interactions between peer research groups.”

The project’s design team consisted of Ostick & Williams in association with Stantec architects, Turner & Townsend Cost Management Surveyors, Albert Fry Associates as the structural and civil consultants, Services & BREEAM Consultants White Young Green, O’Hare & McGovern as the Main Contractor and Harvey Group as the MEP Contractor.

Judges said “This is a high-quality building housing laboratories, offices and meeting rooms for this international research organisation… Innovatively, the building has been designed on an ‘inside-out’ basis… conducive to collaborative working. The building is finished to a very high standard and the achievement of a BREEAM Excellent certification is laudable.”

The RICS Awards are made up of eight categories from Building Conservation to Tourism & Leisure and Infrastructure, and some of the country’s most popular new builds and recent restorations were in the spotlight at the ceremony at La Mon on Friday night (6 May).

 The Lagan Weir Footbridge won the award for Infrastructure, while the SPACE (Shared Process and Community Engagement) People’s Park in Portadown took home the Regeneration and Community Benefit awards. Galgorm Resort & Spa won the Tourism & Leisure category, while City Quays 1, Belfast won the Commercial category, Mount Stewart’s recent restoration won the Building Conservation category and an eye-catching family home in Portrush, Blacksmith’s Cottage, took home the top prize in the Residential category. (Full list of winners and highly commended projects below).

 Ben Collins, RICS Director, Northern Ireland said; “The positive impact that innovative buildings, regenerated shared spaces and world-class tourist facilities have on the local economy and society cannot be overstated. Once again, we have seen some of the best new builds, infrastructure projects, community schemes, and restoration initiatives from the last few years take the spotlight at our annual awards, and we are delighted to be able to highlight the exceptional work of the surveyors and other property professionals behind the projects.”

RICS Awards Judging Chairman, Alistair Dunn added; “This was a competitive year for the RICS Awards in Northern Ireland. Our judges were blown away by the standard of the entries from stately homes to family homes, cross-community projects to buildings that are making a difference in education, medicine and culture.

“The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute is a worthy winner for its breakthrough in innovation, helping emphasise Northern Ireland’s credentials as a hub for critical medical research.”

The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute and the other winners from the evening will now progress as finalists from the Northern Ireland region at the national RICS Awards gala evening in London later in the year.

Further information about the RICS Awards is available at


Project of the Year
The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Belfast

Building Conservation
Winner – Mount Stewart, Newtownards
Highly Commended – The Graduate Building, Queen’s University, Belfast

Commercial – sponsored by Sika
Winner – City Quays 1, Belfast
Highly Commended – Development at 19-21 Broad Street, Magherafelt

Community Benefit
Winner – SPACE(Shared Process and Community Engagement) People’s Park, Portadown
Highly Commended – SERC Performing Arts, Computing and Engineering Campus, Bangor

Design through Innovation – sponsored by Forbo
Winner – The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Belfast
Highly Commended – Grillagh Water House, Maghera

Winner – Lagan Weir Footbridge, Belfast
Highly Commended – RNLI Life Boat Station, Clarrybridge, Enniskillen

Winner – SPACE (Shared Process and Community Engagement) People’s Park, Portadown
Highly Commended – Refurbishment of Seaview Hall, Glenarm

Winner – Blacksmith’s Cottage, Portrush
Highly Commended – Lime Court, Peter’s Hill, Belfast

Tourism & Leisure
Winner – Galgorm Resort & Spa, Ballymena
Highly Commended – Schomberg House, Belfast