ENR Midwest’s annual Best Projects competition once again showcases the region’s construction and design innovation. There were  more than 100 entries, so it was no small task to whittle that list down to 35 award winners that included construction hurdles of every sort, from weather-impacted schedules to extremely challenging site conditions, and even one community that took rebuilding into its own hands.

The lineup of winning projects is an impressive one. A high-rise office tower with a 47-ft-wide foundation built near five active rail lines on one side and the Chicago River on the other took home this year’s Project of the Year honors. But many others impressed this year’s judges. The meticulous restoration of a state capitol building on the National Register of Historic Places, for instance, along with multiple rail projects that brought service to underserved downtowns in large cities, a manufacturing facility that’s bringing jobs to the Rust Belt, one of the largest LEED Platinum corporate offices in the U.S., a stunning university art building that seamlessly blends classic and modern art, a lakefront community that stepped up to fund repairs to an overtopped dam as well as retrofits to aging coal-fired plants that brought them into environmental compliance.

An independent group of judges evaluated, scored and determined final winners over a period of weeks. After an initial scoring, the judges—separated into two panels—met via teleconference to discuss the projects and come to a consensus on awards. Judges could select any combination of Best Project-level category winners and award of merit honorees. It wasn’t an easy task to narrow down the entries. This year’s judges deserve praise for bringing professionalism to the task.

A special thanks goes out to our judges: Randy Bredar, senior vice president at JE Dunn Construction; Renato Gilberti, senior architectural designer at BKV Group; Greg Douglas, vice president of construction innovation at Miron Construction Co.; Sam Mishelow, chief strategy officer at Meyer Najem Construction; Shawn Anderton, vice president at Graycor Industrial Constructors; and Peter Nielsen, senior project manager at IHC Construction. Jeff Emrick, director of safety and compliance at Ozinga Bros., led our judging for safety awards.

All winners will be honored at ENR Midwest’s November 29th annual Best Projects Awards event at the Westin River North in Chicago. ENR Midwest will recognize the Owner, Design Firm, Contractor and Specialty Contractor of the Year as well as the Legacy Award winner. All are welcome to join in celebrating a great year in Midwest design and construction.