While construction activity continues to lag in the Southwest due to the weak economy, the design and construction industry still produced some exceptional projects in 2011. Now in its 14th year, Best Projects showcases the accomplishments of the entire design and construction teams behind these projects.

Photo by Brisen Photography
Award of merit winner Mini of Reno auto dealership impressed judges with a sleek and elegant design that reflects the styling of the car.

ENR Southwest received a total of 130 entries, more than from any of the other six regional editions of ENR. The panel of 15 judges—architects, contractors, subcontractors and engineers from across the entire region—looked at projects in 18 categories, ranging from civil works/infrastructure to office buildings to transportation. One difference this year was that projects from across the Southwest competed together, rather than having a separate list of winners from each state.

Judges read through each entry and scored each based on five criteria: overcoming challenges and teamwork; safety; innovation and contribution to the industry or community; construction quality and craftsmanship; and the function and/or aesthetic quality of the design. Any project with a construction-related death was automatically disqualified.

Taking the top-scoring projects from each category as the finalists, the judges then met to discuss the merits of each finalist and determine the ultimate winners.

Judges looked at information provided by the project teams and asked such questions as: How well did the project team work together to accomplish the project goals? How did the project team go above and beyond the baseline industry safety requirements? In what ways did this project innovate or help elevate industry standards? Did the contractor and subcontractors exceed expectations and achieve extraordinary results? Does the design fulfill the project's function and fit within the context of its surroundings?

The judges selected 18 main category winners and additional Awards of Merit. They chose Chandler City Hall as the Project of the Year, from three finalists that included the Glendale Water Supply Improvement Project in Reno, Nev., and the Mesa Community College - Saguaro Building in Mesa, Ariz.

This year's winners are:

Project of the Year & Best Government/Public Building-  Chandler City Hall

  Government/Public Building Award of Merit- Pueblo of Isleta Tribal Services Complex

  Government/Public Building Award of Merit- Windmill Library and Services Center

Best Civil Works/Infrastructure Project- Glendale Water Supply Improvement

  Civil Works/Infrastructure Award of Merit- Arcadia Drive Drainage Improvements

Best Cultural Project- V. Sue Cleveland High School Phase 2 -  Fine Arts Center and Orchestra Hall 

  Cultural Award of Merit- McCormick Stillman Railroad Park - Model Railroad Building

Best Green Building Project- White Tank Branch Library and Nature Center

  Green Building Award of Merit- Bonneville Transit Center

Best Health Care Project-  Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center

  Health Care Award of Merit- Diamond Children's Medical Center

  Health Care Award of Merit- Tucson Medical Center Mother-Baby and Pediatrics Expansion

Best Higher Education Project- Mesa Community College-Saguaro Building

  Higher Education Award of Merit- Central NMCC Student Resource Center

Best Industrial/Manufacturing Project- Coolidge Generating Station

  Industrial/Manufacturing Award of Merit- Dunn-Edwards Paint Manufacturing Plant

Best Interior Design- Polsinelli Shughart Law Offices at CityScape

Best K-12 Education Project- Youngker High School Performing Arts Center

  K-12 Education Award of Merit- Nex+Gen Academy-Albuquerque Public Schools

Best Landscape/Urban Development Project- Soleri Bridge 

  Landscape/Urban Development Award of Merit- South Arizona Avenue Corridor Improvements

Best Residential/Hospitality Project- The Landings at Nellis

  Residential/Hospitality Award of Merit- Harrah's Ak-Chin Hotel Expansion

Best Office Project- The Sundt Companies Headquarters

Best Renovation/Restoration Project- New Mexico Junior College Pannell Library

  Renovation/Restoration Award of Merit- Community First Bank of Las Vegas, Crockett Building

  Renovation/Restoration Award of Merit- Santa Fe Freight Depot Historic Renovation

Best Retail Project- CityScape Block 77 Retail

Best Small Project- Rachel Ann Perkinson Center

  Small Project Award of Merit- I-40 Trail and Gail Ryba Memorial Bridge

  Small Project Award of Merit- Mini of Reno

Best Specialty Contracting Project- MCFM Solar Thermal Installations CMAR

Best Sports/Entertainment Project- Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

  Sports/Entertainment Award of Merit- The PIT--University of New Mexico Arena

Best Transportation Project- SH 303L-Happy Valley Road to Lake Pleasant Parkway

  Transportation Award of Merit- South Meadows Roadway, Bridge and Utilities