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IStructE Gold Medal for AKT II co-founder Albert Williamson-Taylor.

Albert has been awarded the Institution of Structural Engineers’ 2023 Gold Medal for his unique and outstanding contribution to the advancement of structural engineering. His portfolio of design authorship today encompasses numerous high-profile projects with architects and designers across 50+ countries. He puts design and technology at the forefront of engineering practice to find solutions for the planet’s challenges.

Albert Williamson-Taylor on the roof of the White Collar Factory

Having co-founded AKT II in 1996, Albert has since overseen AKT II’s work for 25+ years, as the principal design director with responsibility for the practice’s technical management. Under his technical leadership, the practice has so far been recognised with 400+ design awards, including four RIBA Stirling Prize wins.

Highlights of Albert’s portfolio include the Stirling Prize-winning Bloomberg European Headquarters in London, the Google Headquarters ‘groundscraper’ in London, the inhabited Vessel sculpture in New York, the masterplanned Google Mountain View campus in California, the demountable Seed Cathedral for Expo 2010 Shanghai in China, the eco-friendly Ummahat Al-Shaykh resorts in the Red Sea, the Masdar science city in Abu Dhabi, and the monumental National Cathedral development in Ghana. Albert’s portfolio also includes several landmark towers such as the South Bank Tower and Hylo redevelopments in London, the Central Bank of Iraq in Baghdad, and the Villaggio Vista residential development in Ghana’s capital city of Accra.

Albert said:
“It’s a privilege to be recognised by the IStructE; it’s humbling that the principles of my design approach – and the ethos of AKT II – are recognised by such a globally prestigious institution. This award contributes to the ongoing motivation, for both myself and my team, to continue innovating the engineering solutions for our planet’s challenges.”

Matt Byatt, president of the IStructE, said:
“Albert’s passion for cutting-edge technology, innovation and sustainable engineering is complemented by his respect for heritage. The Institution of Structural Engineers is delighted to recognise his contribution to structural engineering and to society.”

Albert originally studied engineering in Bristol and Bradford, during the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, while at the same time working variously as a site labourer, a chef, a nightclub doorman and an overnight factory worker, in addition to tutoring younger students and mentoring youth offenders.

For many years in parallel, Albert also leveraged a professional Taekwondo career – achieving the elite ‘fifth-dan master’ level, and competing globally – to mentor further young people from underprivileged backgrounds into higher education. He ran martial arts clubs in London with the specific policy of ‘no education; no training’.

Today, Albert is integral in AKT II’s outreach with inner-city schools and colleges, alongside the firm’s volunteer STEM Ambassadors, to help encourage young people from all backgrounds into engineering and design. He’s also a trustee of the charity Open City, which aims to make urban design and architecture more accessible to everyone and works to steward young people into the built environment’s design and construction.

Albert is now working – including through his role as a board trustee with the new architecture school The African Futures Institute – to enable the sharing of technology for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) in Africa.