Question: What preparation should the entrants do for the site visit?
They should make sure that there is as much access to the building as possible which includes a good representation of the types of rooms within the building.
They should make sure that there are at least three people present on the day - one of which will probably be themselves - a client representative, a builder representative, and an architect or other representative of the design team. If there is extra documentation an entrant wants considered, it can be brought along to the visit, but this is not essential, and there won't be a lot of time to go through this in much detail.
Question: What will happen on the visit?
Answer: Typically the judges will find a suitable spot somewhere in the building where they can get a more in depth understanding about the project and how it came together. Although it will be a quick overview of the project covering from the initial brief given, through design and contractor procurement to completion, this will concentrate on any aspects of the project that may have been unusual or particularly challenging. This generally takes around half an hour.
After that all those present will proceed around the building as a group, guided by the entrant, trying to see all the major spaces and a selection of typical smaller ones in a building with repetitive elements. Discussion continues throughout the visit.
Question: What will the judges be looking at on their visit?
Answer: Judges will be looking at the building, and the quality of work, though this will realistically just be a small sample, rather than a comprehensive review.
They will also be looking at the overall design, and how well it fits within its context. At least as important however, will be the discussion that takes place during the visit.
Question: What makes a building score highly?
Any building can score highly, but it needs to do most things well, and it helps to have some stand out features - those could be, but don't necessarily have to be design features - as examples, some projects have scored well for having achieved a huge amount on a very tight budget, or for having coped with extremely challenging conditions of continuing occupation while the work was underway, or for innovative construction techniques.
A poor score on any of the judging criteria may be balanced by success in other areas, but a poor health and safety record, or unresolved financial issues for instance would rule a project out of the higher award categories.
Question: Why do you want those 3 people at the site visit?
When at least 3 team members are at the judging it helps gauge the success of the project from all points of view. This is important, because this is not a beauty contest – the goal is to award projects that are successful on all levels - particularly where the client is happy with the process and the outcome. Presence of the designer helps in understanding why the building looks the way it does.