This year's Best Projects competition in the Mountain States region featured more than 100 entries—our largest number to date—in a dozen different categories from which the judges selected nearly 70 winners.

Courtesy of Saunders Construction
A Special Judges Recognition for Excellence was awarded to the University of Colorado at Boulders 50,800-sq-ft addition to JILA, which hosts some of the worlds leading scientists, including Nobel laureates in physics.

As in past years, entries were judged on safety, how well they overcame challenges through the use of teamwork and innovation, and their contribution to the community or the industry. Judges were also asked to consider the aesthetic nature of the design, how well it was built and how well it met the owner's goals.

Projects had to be located in any of the five states comprising the Mountain States region: Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, with an extended reach allowing for entries from Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Firms were allowed to enter more than one project per category but not the same project in different categories. Scoring was done on a standard scale, and ties were allowed if aggregate scores were close and judges deemed the projects to be of nearly equal merit.

After all tallies were in, the judges chose by consensus one project from Colorado and one from the Intermountain states (Utah, Idaho and Montana) to stand as the Best Overall for their areas—projects that clearly stood above the rest of the winners.

This year, both of the Best Overall projects were important new cultural facilities. In Colorado, the honor goes to the Clyfford Still Museum, an aesthetically simple icon built in Denver's cultural arts district. In the Intermountain area, the Best Overall project is the Natural History Museum of Utah, a stunning addition to the civic and educational portfolio of Salt Lake City.

Judges also recognized four projects for outstanding craftsmanship and impact on their communities: the retail portion of the City Creek Center development and Utah Transit Authority's Jordan River Service Center, both in Salt Lake City; and in Colorado, the University of Colorado & NIST JILA X-wing addition in Boulder and the Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit at the Denver Zoo.