Midwest Construction’s Best of 2009 award competition again attracted a record-tying 128 entries. Forty-four of the projects are being honored for excellence in design, construction, and overall performance. In addition, four are also being honored with special awards for architectural function, engineering function, outstanding project management, and owner of the year recognition.

Midwest Construction's Best of 2009 Awards
Photo: Mike Larson
This year’s jury intently studies the Best of 2009 entries, Clockwise from left front: John Mick II (Baxter & Woodman); Dave Alexander (James McHugh Construction); Michael Kaufman (Goettsch Partners); Warren Hill (Hill Mechanical Group); facilitator Tony Figueroa (McGraw-Hill, who did not vote); hidden next to Tony, facilitator Becky McDowell (McGraw-Hill, who did not vote); David Cullen (J.P. Cullen & Sons); and Garret Browne (Thornton Tomasetti).

Midwest Construction’s Best of 2009 competition drew 128 entries again this year, tying the 2008 contest for the highest total since the competition began in 1998.

The bulk of entries came from the core states the magazine covers: Illinois, Indiana, eastern Missouri and Wisconsin. But fifteen entries came from surrounding states that Midwest Construction covers less intently: Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio.

This was the first year that entries had to be submitted electronically using an Internet form. The jury members all commented that the standardized entry format let them compare projects more easily and consistently.

Even with that aid, it was not easy to pick winners from the many excellent projects submitted. Entries came from a mix of sources: public and private owners, general contractors, specialty contractors, architects, engineers, and developers.

The wide range of projects ran from towering skyscrapers and elegant museums, to dams, highways, hospitals, schools, and religious centers. Entries were organized into 20 categories ranging from civil and public works to interior design and tenant build-out.

A jury of six distinguished design, engineering, and construction professionals judged the submissions:

  • Dave Alexander, senior vice president, James McHugh Construction Co., Chicago.

  • Garret Browne, vice president, Thornton Tomasetti, Chicago.

  • David Cullen, president, J.P. Cullen & Sons Inc., Janesville, Wis.

  • Warren Hill, chairman, Hill Mechanical Group, Franklin Park, Ill.

  • Michael Kaufman, partner, Goettsch Partners, Chicago.

  • John Mick II, regional manager, Baxter & Woodman, Chicago.
  • Before the judging, each juror received a PDF file of all the entries, including photographs and supporting documents, to review. This is the first year that photos and supporting documents were included in the preview, thanks to the streamlined logistics of the electronic submission system.

    On Sept. 17, jury members donated their day and met in Midwest Construction’s office in the Prudential Building in Chicago to select the most outstanding projects.

    To judge each category, jurors evaluated all of its entries on eight factors: teamwork and project management, safety, innovation, contribution to the community or industry, challenges overcome, quality and craftsmanship, function and aesthetic quality of the design, and special factors unique to each project.

    Once jurors had discussed a category’s projects, the floor was opened for award nominations. A project won an award if the majority of jurors found it worthy of distinction.

    The jury gave awards to a total of 44 projects throughout the 20 categories. In some categories, project-of-the-year awards and awards of merit were both given. In others, only the project of the year or only the award of merit was granted.

    The jurors also voted to give four special awards: architectural aesthetic and function excellence, engineering aesthetic and function excellence, outstanding project management, and the owner of the year.

    Brief descriptions of winning projects are on the following pages.

    The winners will be honored at an awards breakfast at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

    Thank you to all the organizations that submitted contributions to this year’s competition.