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Halley VI Antarctic Research Station Wins 2015 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award

March 26, 2015

Reston, Va. -  Perched atop skis on a 500-foot-thick ice shelf floating on the Weddell Sea in Antarctica, it looks like something you might see in a science fiction movie.  But it's real, and it has overcome tremendous odds to become an engineering feat and modern marvel.  Launched in February 2013 and run by the British Antarctic Survey, the state-of-the-art Halley VI Antarctic Research Station is the world's first permanently manned, fully movable facility created to study the Earth's atmosphere and deep space.   

In recognition of this achievement, the Halley VI Antarctic Research Station was honored with the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) 2015 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement award.  The announcement was made this evening at the Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) awards gala at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va. 

Designed by AECOM and Hugh Broughton Architects, the futuristic, $43 million research station is comprised of modules that sit atop ski-fitted, hydraulic legs designed to cope with rising snow. These legs can be individually raised in response to snow accumulation, and each module can be towed independently to a new location. 

Environmental and technical challenges of the Halley VI were immense.  Located in an environment where temperatures routinely plummet to -69 degrees Fahrenheit, winds reach speeds of 100 miles per hour and shifting ice and snow accumulation threaten its extinction, the research station also faced narrow construction windows, logistical issues, environmental restrictions and very tight financial constraints. So daunting were the challenges, Britain's first four Antarctic bases, dating back to 1956, were buried by snow and had to be abandoned.

"The Halley VI Antarctic Research Station is one of the most ambitious and technically complex buildings ever created in the harshest climate on earth, said Robert D. Stevens, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, president of ASCE.  "The ability to move this larger-than-life station with just two people in a week's time makes it truly an amazing project given its size.  Not only is the facility a fantastic example of design, innovation and construction, but the scientific research conducted here has and will undoubtedly continue to result in lasting achievements."     

The Halley VI boasts a unique, aerodynamic design that optimizes snow management and translucent nanoaerogel panels -- the most thermally efficient material known -- which extensively reduce energy loss.  Demonstrating its immense value, it was from this innovative research facility that scientists discovered evidence of man-made depletion of the earth's ozone layer.   

The project team of the Halley VI Antarctic Research Station includes the British Antarctic Survey, AECOM, Hugh Broughton Architects and Galliford Try. 

Established in 1960, the OCEA program recognizes projects from around the world for their contribution to the well-being of people and communities, their resourcefulness in planning and design challenges, and their innovative use of materials and techniques. 

Recent OCEA winners include:

  • New Orleans Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier
  • Alvarado Water Treatment Plant Ozone Upgrade and Expansion Project, San Diego, Calif.
  • Sutong Bridge, Nantong City, Jiangsu Province, China
  • Woodrow Wilson Bridge outside Washington, D.C.
  • Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit in San Francisco

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 146,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. ASCE's 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure , graded America's cumulative GPA for infrastructure at a D+.The Report Card app for Apple and Android devices includes videos, interactive maps and info-graphics that tell the story behind the grades, as well as key facts for all 50 states. For more information, visit .