Paul Westbury has arguably one of the best jobs in British engineering, combining his love of sport with unique engineering design skills. He leads the engineering group involved in some of the world’s most important sporting venues, with completed projects including the O2 Arena, the 2006 Winter Olympics Oval in Turin, Arsenal’s acclaimed Emirates Stadium and the recent redevelopment of Ascot Racecourse.

Paul, a Partner and Director of engineering consultancy Buro Happold, has won a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal for his outstanding personal contribution with a commercial benefit to British engineering – Academy President Lord Browne of Madingley will present the medal at the Academy Awards Dinner in London on Monday 9 June.

Aged just 38, Paul is the Regional Director for Buro Happold’s Bath office, the birthplace of the firm over 30 years ago, where he now leads over 400 engineers. He is also a member of the Buro Happold Executive Board. Paul was elected to The Royal Academy of Engineering in 2003 aged 33 – the youngest person ever to be elected.

“Paul is an outstanding engineer who combines mathematical ability and business acumen with first rate design skills,” says Ian Liddell CBE FREng, a founding Partner of Buro Happold and a pioneering designer of lightweight structures. “The impact and quality of his engineering work has enabled the continuing expansion and development of Buro Happold.”

Paul established the Buro Happold sports engineering group in 1999 in Bath to capitalise on their growing expertise in large occupancy sports and entertainment buildings. The group have since completed a number of notable projects and are currently working on the engineering of London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium and the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road Stadium in Dublin.

The group’s experiences on Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium is bound to help – this spectacular 60,000-seat stadium became Arsenal Football Club's new home in 2006 after 93 years at Highbury and has been hugely successful, built to time and budget. The groundbreaking design is a huge elliptical structure featuring five main levels of accommodation and four seating tiers, yet it is contained within a compact site footprint and respects the height restriction imposed by local planners.

The redevelopment of Ascot Racecourse was another challenging project – the racetrack and all spectator facilities were completely remodelled, together with new access roads and infrastructure, constructed in a tight time period of under two years. Taking its lead from the trees of the surrounding Windsor Great Park, the 300m long main grandstand is formed from a series of intricate structural steel “trees” that provide shelter and enclosure to the race goers below.

But Paul cut his teeth on difficult and controversial projects – he and Ian Liddell led the engineering design team for the Millennium Dome, for which they won the Academy’s MacRobert Award for engineering innovation in 1999. The largest tented structure in the world, the Dome’s structure weighs less than the air inside it. Paul went on to lead the engineering team that also transformed the Dome into what is now the O2 Arena and entertainment district.

“For any project to be a success it must have a visionary client and a terrific design team, and I have been fortunate to have had both on most of my projects,” says Paul. “We have world class engineers in our sports team at Buro Happold and our successes have been hard earned by every one of them. I feel tremendously proud of what we have all achieved together and delighted to have received this award in recognition of our achievements. British engineering has always been amongst the strongest in the world and I have no doubt that this team of engineers will be able to continue this tradition long into the future. I am excited to be an engineer and tremendously grateful to the founding partners at Buro Happold for the opportunities and support that they have given me throughout my career.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Academy's Silver Medals were instigated in 1995. They are awarded annually to engineers who have made outstanding contributions offering a commercial benefit to British engineering but have been working as an engineer for no more than 30 years. Up to four medals may be awarded each year. See  Silver Medal

    This year’s other Silver Medals go to Dr Barbara Lane of Arup, Dr Adrian Travis of Microsoft and Kenneth Innes of Shell Exploration and Production.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0636
Jenni O’Connor at Buro Happold tel. 01225 320600 x 2937