Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti is set to become New Jersey transportation commissioner, nominated in late December by Gov.-elect Phil Murphy (D) and awaiting state Senate confirmation after he takes office this month.


Executive director and CEO of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise since 2011, she managed operation of its 480-mile tolled system. Gutierrez-Scaccetti also is a two-decade veteran of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and its former executive director, as well as a co-chair of Murphy’s transportation and infrastructure transition team.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti also is set to chair the board of NJ Transit, the statewide commuter rail network that faces a host of management issues after eight years under the administration of outgoing Gov. Chris Christie (R). In particular are funding shortfalls and operational issues and the state’s role in financing and executing the start of the estimated $30-billion Gateway rail upgrade between New Jersey and New York and a replacement tunnel under the Hudson River. The Trump Administration said earlier this month it will not honor a 50-50 federal-state funding pledge for Gateway’s first phase made by President Obama, although some observers see the stance as a negotiating tactic. Gutierrez-Scaccetti has been a proponent of congestion pricing in Florida, says nj.com.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti will select a replacement for NJ Transit chief Steve Santoro, who says he will resign in April. His successor must also meet a year-end deadline to complete installation of positive train control, with agency officials and media reports disputing the status of that effort across the statewide network. Industry officials praised Gutierrez-Scaccetti’s role in launching the $2.5-billion turnpike widening, which finished in 2014.

Pietro ‘Pete’ Giovenco, president of design firm Bergmann Associates, takes on the added role of CEO, succeeding Tom Mitchell, who becomes executive vice president.


Bechtel has realigned executives in its nuclear business. Senior Vice President Peggy McCullough, its project director for construction of the controversial $17-billion Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at the U.S. Energy Dept.’s Hanford nuclear site in Washington state, now is manager of the contractor’s nuclear, security and operations business at its Reston, Va., headquarters.

McCullogh took the Hanford role in 2013 amid questions about the plant’s technical design and safety raised in whistle-blower lawsuits, and “got the whole project on track,” according to a local official cited by the Tri-Cities Herald. Succeeding her in progressing the schedule-challenged project begun in 2002 to turn high-level radioactive waste at the former nuclear-weapons production site into a stable glass form is Senior Vice President Brian Reilly. He had led design and construction of DOE’s $6.5-billion enriched uranium processing facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., since 2014. Project construction is set to ramp up later this year.

At Hanford, Reilly will guide completion of the treatment facility’s first phase to process low-level waste. That construction will wrap in June, with waste processing set to begin by 2022. But with remaining technical issues, the entire vitrification plant is not expected to be in full operation until 2036, officials say.

Several firms have named new company presidents. Michael L. “Mike” Choutka is promoted to the corporate role at Hensel Phelps Construction Co. He remains chief operating officer. Scott M. Anderson now has the role at Charles Pankow Builders Ltd. He had been senior vice president and regional manager.  Design firm NV5 Global Inc. has hired Dwayne Miller as president of buildings, technology and science. He is former chairman, CEO and president of JBA Consulting Engineers. Dewberry has elevated Dan Southwick to president of its design-build practice, which includes telecommunications and higher education and turnkey services for federal and commercial clients, it says. He is based in Raleigh, N.C.


John Portman Jr.

John C. Portman Jr., who “began his lifelong love affair” with architecture at age 15, says an online family obituary, and went on to build an international reputation and empire as an architect, builder and real estate developer, died Dec. 29 in Atlanta at age 93.

Portman “did not always follow traditional paths,” says the obituary. His post-modernist style and career trajectory raised controversy. But “he pioneered the role of architect as developer” to enable his designs.

“Portman broke the model of the corporate developer hiring the corporate architect by being both,” says architecture critic Paul Goldberger in a Jan. 9 online tribute for Architectural Record, ENR’s sister publication.

An innovative developer of downtown hotels, he “offered the antithesis to the confining environment of once-typical urban hotels; guest-room floors rise around a soaring, sky-lit atrium with glass observation elevators,” says the obituary.

Portman’s architecture also reversed urban blight in cities where he built, which include Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Detroit and Beijing. ENR cited Portman as a Newsmaker in 1966 for the conception, design and development of Atlanta’s huge Peachtree Center hotel-commercial complex, and again, in 1983, for triumphing over red tape, after a decade, to help revitalize New York City’s Times Square with a strategic new hotel. “Portman genuinely loved cities and wanted to see them flourish, but his notion of urbanism” was within the buildings’ interior, says Goldberger.

A major philanthropist, Portman also was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

“For most of his career he was an outsider to the … architecture establishment, which came to embrace him only toward the end of his life when … his flamboyant work could be analyzed as a cultural marker rather than feared as a disrupter,” says Goldberger.