Now in its 15th year, ENR Southwest's Best Projects competition honors an impressive group of winners. Despite the lingering slowdown in construction work caused by the recession, this year's entries—spanning work completed between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012—were some of the best ever received, according to industry judges, some of whom have served in previous years.

There was no shortage of entries either. Using a new online system, the Southwest region received 138 submissions. To conquer such a magnitude of entries, a panel of 15 judges was assembled, representing all facets of the design and construction industry.

Judges reviewed and scored each entry based on five criteria: overcoming challenges and teamwork; safety; innovation and contribution to the community; construction quality and craftsmanship; and the function and/or aesthetic quality of the design. Projects with a construction-related death were disqualified.

If a judge's employer submitted an entry, that judge was assigned to a different category and did not participate in the scoring or discussion of any competing projects.

Taking the top-scoring projects, the judges then met to argue the merits of each finalist and determine the ultimate winners, which were selected in 19 main categories, ranging from civil/infrastructure to offices and education. Judges chose a main category winner and one or more awards of merit.

The judges also selected an overall winner for the Southwest region. Three Phoenix projects rose to the top as the finalists for Project of the Year: PHX Sky Train, DPR Construction's Phoenix Office and GateWay Community College's Integrated Education Building. The winners are profiled in the following pages.

New this year, a separate panel of safety experts was assembled to review the entries for ENR Southwest's first annual safety award. More than 50 projects were considered and judged based on their OSHA incident rates, lost-time accidents, total man-hours and the quality of the project's safety programs.

The safety award was judged by Joe Molitor, regional safety director with Okland Construction Co. in Tempe, Ariz., and Clark Peterson, Western region safety director at Skanska USA Civil's Riverside, Calif., office.

The remaining categories were judged by:

Linnea Brudenell, owner of Architectural Energy Performance, a consulting firm in Phoenix; Mike Cherwin, vice president, M.J. Dean Construction Inc. in Las Vegas; Dick Crowley, vice president, Kitchell, Phoenix; Ryan Ferguson, preconstruction manager, DPR Construction, Phoenix; J.F. Finn III, principal and managing director, Gensler, Las Vegas; Kristen Howard, business development, Rider Levett Bucknall, Phoenix; Ron Izzo, associate principal, RNL, Denver; Betsy Lynch, architect and senior associate with Gould Evans in Phoenix; Lee O'Connell, project director at McCarthy Building Cos.' Albuquerque office; Craig Randock, AIA Arizona's president-elect and design studio leader with HDR Architecture's Phoenix office; Hap Richardson, president of Richardson & Richardson Construction in Albuquerque; Paul Schoeffler, preconstruction manager with Albuquerque-based Brycon Construction; and Curtis Slife, president and owner of FM Solutions in Phoenix.

Thank you to all the judges, and congratulations to the winners.