Would I recommend it? - Yes.
I really enjoyed this book. The scientific concepts and how they related to the end of the book were intriguing. There was a lot of explaining going on, which may not have been the best story, and some repetition, but I felt I needed it to understand what was going on.
There was a pulp feel to it, completely expected for the publishing data, and the two female characters were the ship's entertainment and lucky ingenue, which, again, was not unusual, but is a bit grating nowadays. The human male protagonist was in many ways the peak of "coolness" for the day but in his inner life was ready to be self aware enough to know he had flaws. The alien species were well considered and presented as developed personalities with viewpoints arising from their backgrounds.
There is no character development of anyone. It's simply an adventure. It reminds me of Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels, which were first published at about the same time, just with a much older race leaving a much larger mystery.
How does it make me think? - I consider the importance of scale and the possibility of the unforeseen catastrophe. And I think of a dramatization of the importance of different perspectives in finding a solution.
Was it award-worthy? - Perhaps. I really enjoyed the book, but it's hard to consider some of these older books in context.
Ringworld by Larry Niven won the 1970 Nebula Award and the 1971 Hugo Award