Despite a challenging construction market, ENR California's 2012 Best Projects demonstrate that design and construction teams continued to push forward with exemplary and innovative work. Jurors selected 40 projects for awards in 15 categories. One was chosen as our Best Overall Project of 2012.

Photo by David Wakely
A natural wood screen, crafted from FSC-certified wood, helps to define space at Orchard Library in San Jose. The project won an Award of Merit in the K-12 category.

This year's Best Overall Project, the $956-million Palomar Medical Center in Escondido (p. CA14), is the largest building of its kind to use an integrated project delivery (IPD) method and one of only two hospitals in the United States with natural daylight in its operating rooms. It is one of two winning health care projects to use IPD: An Award of Merit goes to the Sutter Health Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley (p. CA31). It was the largest project under construction in California when it broke ground in 2007.

Most of this year's winning projects emphasize sustainability, with more than half designed to meet LEED standards. For example, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters in Los Altos, which won Best Green Project (p. CA27), is designed for net-zero energy consumption. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's 525 Golden Gate office building in San Francisco and the Redding School of the Arts in Redding were honored with Awards of Merit in the Green Projects category (p. CA28). All three winners were designed to LEED-Platinum standards.

As part of its awards competition, ENR California inaugurated a safety awards category this year. "Safety has always been an important area of ENR's coverage because it is so important to our readers," said Janice L. Tuchman, ENR editor-in-chief, in a September announcement. "It has been one of the Best Projects competition's criteria from the beginning, but we think it deserves this special recognition."

Our first-ever Best Safety Project is Dignity Health's Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria (p. CA16). Kitchell, Del Mar, led construction of the $218-million 235,000-sq-ft hospital project, which was completed with no lost-time accidents over more than 1,000 work days, totalling 1.1 million man-hours.

Read on to learn more about the projects that set the standard for excellence in California.