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Unprecedented success for Westminster students at RIBA

7 December 2009

Students from the University of Westminster have again swept the boards in the RIBA President’s Medals Student Awards competition. These annual prizes, presented by the Royal Institute of British Architects, are the foremost international awards for architectural students.

Nicholas Szczepaniak from the Graduate Diploma in Architecture course has won the 2009 RIBA Silver Medal for his project
titled ‘A Defensive Architecture’. His design tutors were Susanne Isa, Sasha Leong and Markus Seifermann. Nicholas created
a beautifully atmospheric proposal that warned of the dangers of climate change and also suggested a practical solution to
coastal erosion in the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, through a set of modern-day Martello towers housing a national book
repository. Exquisitely conceived and drawn, Nicholas’s project also won the coveted SOM Travel Scholarship Prize at
postgraduate level.

Another student from the Graduate Diploma course, Rebecca Gregory, won the 2009 RIBA Dissertation Medal for her essay
on ‘The Art of Skew Bridges’. Her tutor was Richard Difford. Focussing on a fascinating but little known example of this
specialised kind of bridge construction which became popular in Victorian Britain with the advent of the railways, Rebecca
carried out a brilliant two-pronged analysis that both analysed the bridge’s geometrical properties and also brought vividly
to life the designers and engineers who created it. The dissertation was exceptionally well written and mature, and will now
be published in an academic journal.

These major prizes demonstrate once more the supremacy of Westminster’s Department of Architecture in the prestigious RIBA
President’s Medals competition. Students from the Graduate Diploma in Architecture have won the RIBA Silver Medal three times
in the last five years and the RIBA Dissertation Medal four times in the same period. Over 100 architectural schools compete for
the awards each year, and no other school in Britain or internationally comes even remotely close to matching this level of
achievement – proving again that the standard of architectural teaching at the University of Westminster is amongst the very best
in the world.

Professor Murray Fraser, course leader for the Graduate Diploma in Architecture, adds:
‘This postgraduate professional course is now the most popular and demanding in Britain, and the high quality of our students is
confirmed by just how often they are triumphing in worldwide competitions.’

Contacts for press:

Nicholas Szczepaniak        [email protected]
Susanne Isa                    [email protected]; [email protected]
Rebecca Gregory                [email protected]
Richard Difford                [email protected]
Professor Murray Fraser        [email protected]

About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 180-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.

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