In Asheville, N.C., the contractor also recently completed the $12-million Biltmore Estates Antler Hill Village, a retail, theater and restaurant complex.

Perhaps no recent project was more spectacular than The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, completed last year for Universal Orlando. The project brought to life scenes from the Harry Potter movies, such as Hogsmeade Village and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft, not to mention the namesake ride.

The attraction opened to throngs of people and rave reviews. By itself, Universal's Harry Potter attraction may have energized more than just one Central Florida theme park, as The New York Times noted at the time.

“The unexpected, turbocharged success of the $265-million Potter playland has not only given a new bounce to Ms. Rowling's literary creation, it has also ignited … a friendly hometown rivalry between Universal and Walt Disney World,” The Times reported, quoting Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's description of the park as “breathtaking.” (In April 2010, Walt Disney World broke ground on its estimated $650-million expansion of Fantasyland.)

But there was no resting on their laurels for the crew that built Harry Potter. In late 2010, some of the same players quickly set to work about 45 miles down Interstate 4, near Winter Haven, Fla., on PCL's design-build contract with Merlin Entertainments Group of England to remake Florida's former Cypress Gardens into Legoland Florida in just 13 months.

It was one of the highest-profile commercial contracts of the year in Florida, representing an overall investment estimated at $300 million.

Strategic Civil Expansion

While the building unit is riding a crest of momentum, the civil unit is planning on creating some of its own.

In January, the Tampa-based PCL Civil Constructors unit reorganized itself. PCL made the move to fight a perception among owners that it is focused solely on Florida, and to more formally define itself as having a broader geographic reach.

The reorganization is partly due to decreased activity in Florida, but at the same time merely formalizes the current situation.

The Tampa office is presently managing more than $1 billion in contracts, including the $133-million Gilmerton Bascule Bridge Replacement project in Chesapeake, Va., and, with Walsh Group, the $417-million Pearl Harbor Memorial (Q) Bridge in New Haven, Conn.

“We will go into these areas, looking for these unusual projects,” says Roger Martin, vice president. “We're looking for opportunities and the right places to be.”

That means more projects like the $31-million Ben Sawyer Swing Bridge near Mount Pleasant, S.C., where “our approach and innovation helped us win the job,” says Gayle Grady, construction manager and leader of PCL's special projects unit.

On this recently completed design-build contract, PCL constructed the entire superstructure for the 1,153-ft-long bridge alongside the existing structure, and then slid it into place over a 10-day period.

“We like complex projects,” adds Joe Richard, construction manager, who is overseeing the $391-million Interstate 4/Crosstown Connector project in Tampa.