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Freo museum claims a first

THE $36 million WA Maritime Museum at Fremantle Harbour won the major prize at this year’s engineering excellence awards, following its success in the State’s architecture awards.

The museum received the Institution of Engineers, Australia Award for its overall engineering accomplishments and, in particular, for the ‘Spirit’ building.

Director of Engineers Australia (WA Division) Richard Usher said the museum had elevated the contribution of the engineering profession within the eyes of the broader community.

“There were an enormous number of engineering challenges which had to be met in order for this vision to be achieved,” Mr Usher said.

Participants in the project originally submitted three award entries but the judging panel chose to present a collective award.

Organisations that contributed to the museum included project managers GHD, Multiplex Constructions, the Department of Housing and Works and engineering consultants Connell Mott MacDonald.

GHD project manager Graham Greenacre said the Museum presented “a whole range of challenges”.

These started with the remediation of the heavily contaminated site and included the constraints of building the museum within an operating port.

The project team also had to ensure the building lived up to expectations.

“The brief was very clear,” Mr Greenacre said.

“It had to be a striking, iconic building. The site demanded an iconic building.”

Multiplex WA director Rob Lodge said the building’s unusual architectural form and its location right on the water’s edge, meant “it was a constant challenge to come up with solutions that worked”.

“It’s that sort of building, there isn’t a guide anywhere,” Mr Lodge said.

Specific challenges included the construction of foundations at 2.4 metres below sea level and the installation of huge curved ‘glulaminated’ beams up to 36 metres high.

On the exterior, the building features curved aluminium panels to suit the portals on the northern side and a proprietary zinc cladding system to the south.

Earlier this year, architecture firm Cox Howlett + Bailey Woodland was named winner of the George Temple Poole award, the State’s top architecture prize, for its work on the maritime museum.

In the engineering awards, other category winners included the Australian Catamaran Challenge, which has developed a revolutionary “winged” catamaran for the “Little America’s Cup” in Rhode Island next year.

Put together by the Australian Catamaran Challenge syndicate, it won the category of small company project.

The C Class vessel features a radical wing sail that is capable of sailing up to twice the speed of the wind.

The syndicate’s naval architect and designer Damien Smith said the solid wing was similar in appearance to that of an aeroplane.

“It has a main body section with a flap at the back that moves. This technology enables the body and flap of the wing to twist like a soft sail, which is essential to achieve maximum aerodynamic efficiency,” he said. “The unique feature that helps deliver such stunning performance is the wing’s monocoque twisting technology – a world first, developed by our team.”

The Australian Catamaran Challenge syndicate is largely privately funded.

Other team members include: project manager Barry Winterbourn; sailing master Brian Lewis; syndicate coordinator Ian Jenkins; engineer Paul Peterson and boat builder Fabrice Allaz.

Other category winners in the engineering awards included two of WA’s biggest road projects.

Henry Walker Eltin, Mains Roads WA and Maunsell Australia won the engineering for regional communities award for the $46 million Mt Magnet to Leinster Road – Youanmi to Agnew Section.

Main Roads, Leighton Contractors and GHD won the infrastructure and building award for the Roe Highway extension stage 4/5.

The Water Corporation, Consultant Environmental Engineers, DAL Science and Engineering and GHD won the environment award for the Bunbury ocean outfall project.

In the resource development category, the winner was Worley’s Victoria platform development, which was completed in just 10 weeks.

The Maunsell Sinclair Knight Merz joint venture and the WA Government Railways Commission won the management of engineering award for their work on the design and documentation of the South West Metro Railway: package A.

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