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The Manchester Society of Architects Awards have been held annually since 1995 and are presented for buildings that have made a particularly positive contribution to the local environment and to individuals for their contribution to the architectural profession.

These awards raise the profile of Manchester's architecture and deliver an inclusive, industry-wide event that reflects the true quality of the community's work, and attracts the most influential construction professionals in the area.

The 2021 award ceremony took place last night, Thursday 21st October, at the Albert Hall in Manchester and was attended by 500+ individuals from across the construction sector, brought together to commend, celebrate, and revel in the outstanding work of the city's finest architects.

The event was particularly special for us as a practice, as it saw Co-Founding Partner, Rachel Haugh, awarded with the Outstanding Contribution Award.

Rachel Haugh, educated at the University of Bath where she is currently an external examiner and awarded an Honorary Doctorate by The University of Manchester in 2018, co-founded SimpsonHaugh with Ian Simpson in 1987. The practice operates across the globe from its offices in Manchester and London and is known for its award-winning designs.

Rachel's career development is intrinsically linked to the growth and success of SimpsonHaugh. She has played an integral part in building the practice's strong project portfolio and reputation as leading urban and civic architects.

Contributing to all projects, practice management and strategic direction, Rachel is a powerful critic and a strong sounding board at early project stages, as well as a passionate advocate of the rigorous interrogation essential to maintaining design quality through to completion. She is also passionate about mentoring and coaching individuals to achieve and add value to the profession, offers guidance and inspiration to young women within the construction industry and is keen to promote diversity and inclusion.

Rachel was honoured to receive the Outstanding Contribution Award yesterday evening at the MSA Awards. The award was presented by Robert McGuinnes (President, MSA), who announced the award with the following words:

"Few people can be said to have made a greater mark on the city of Manchester's built environment than this year's winner.
With a collection of projects spanning decades and ranging from landmark developments defining or reinvigorating spaces in the city, down to delicate interventions, they have completed them all and with great accomplish in this fine city.
They have been a strong voice for design quality, a powerful critic, and have fought for the disadvantaged. And, in my experience, found to be one of the nicest and most genuine people in our business."

Presented with this prestigious award, Rachel gave the following speech:

"I'm delighted to accept this award whilst recognising the crucial contribution of my partner, Ian Simpson, together with our fabulous team within the practice.
Ian and I set up together over 34 years ago. Since those early years, focussed on competition entries and desperately trying to make things happen, we've worked extremely hard to build a strong body of work here, across the country, and internationally.
It has been a fantastic time to be an architect, especially in Manchester. We've found it's a city where the individual can make a real and tangible difference.
I'm extremely grateful for your recognition of our contribution to date and my role within that."

The winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award is selected by the society for recognition of the exceptional contribution that person has made. We're thrilled as a practice to see Rachel receive the award, and we congratulate all the 2021 category winners.

See Rachel's full acceptance speech below.