For 15 years now, ENR Southeast’s annual Best Projects contest has been recognizing construction and design excellence performed on contracts from across the region. Each year, the contest uncovers outstanding efforts by national, regional and local contractors and design firms, with many of the projects being relatively unknown, but proving to be hidden gems.

The commitment to serve as a Best Projects judge is no easy task; it requires many hours to review and assess the dozens of entries that we assign each member of our panel. Finding out about these lower-profile projects—as well as the better-known contracts—always proves intriguing and even a little exciting for our judges, as they always come away impressed by the projects they’ve just learned about.

As regular readers and contest entrants know, each Best Projects award is determined by our independent panel of judges based upon each entry’s measurement against the following criteria: the project team’s ability to overcome challenges; safety; innovation and contribution to the community or industry; construction quality and craftsmanship; and function and aesthetic quality of design. To make their selections, individual judges provide scores for each project on a criteria-by-criteria basis. After all of the judges have reviewed each entry, overall scores are tallied, enabling a ranking for each project category. From there, the two separate judging panels meet via phone to determine final winners, with a unanimous group consensus required for each award, whether it’s a Best Project in a specific category or an award of merit.

This year’s judges for the overall contest included the following: Brent Darnell, of Brent Darnell International, Atlanta; Keith Douglas, the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Atlanta; Bruce Kershner, National Utility Contractors Association of Florida, Longwood, Fla.; Keith Laguaite, McKim & Creed, Atlanta; Cheryl Maze, principal, TLC Engineering for Architecture, Orlando; Jake Nellis, JE Dunn Construction, Tampa; and Will Weaver, JLL, Charlotte. (Judge Keith Douglas was recused from all voting on the One Porsche Drive project, for which Whiting-Turner was the contractor.)

ENR Southeast also uses a separate panel of experts to determine the award for Excellence in Safety. For this year’s safety judging, ENR Southeast enlisted the following: George Guffey, John Moriarty & Associates Florida, Hollywood; David Lockhart, Poole & Kent Co. of Florida, Miami; and David Wessin, Coastal Construction, Miami. We invite you to read on and discover for yourself some of the Southeast’s Best Projects.