The ENR Southwest Best Projects competition recognizes outstanding construction work in the past year in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. Twenty-five projects have been honored as the region’s best.

The Biodesign Institute Building C on the Arizona State University campus was named Project of the Year. The Excellence in Safety winner was the Ascaya Clubhouse in Las Vegas. Judges were impressed with the engineering and contracting feats on Biodesign C and the safety successes of Ascaya, which used more than 2,000 shots of dynamite to clear a mountainside.

Two New Mexico projects received specific mention from the judges. The Carlisle in Albuquerque, a Best Projects winner in the residential/hospitality category, was the victim of a serial arsonist, but it was completely rebuilt in about 17 months. Along Interstate 40 in Albuquerque, a diversion channel features a concrete volcano that uses elevation change to create an “eruption” which can reach 6 to 8 ft above the volcano top.

Those two projects and the other winners impressed this year’s judges for their achievements in innovation and creative design.

Two panels of judges reviewed more than 60 projects that were completed between May 1, 2017, and May 31, 2018.

The Best Projects panel included: Pat Edwards, principal and regional manager, Burns & McDonnell; Kai Kaoni, assistant professor of practice at Northern Arizona University; John Take, senior vice president, Stantec; Craig Randock, design leader, DLR Group; Bill Sabatini, lead design principal, D/P/S; and Brent Wright, CEO, Wright Engineers.

The judges rated the projects based on five criteria: overcoming challenges and teamwork; safety; innovation and contribution to the community; construction quality and craftsmanship; and the function and/or aesthetic quality of the design.

Any project that experienced a construction-related fatality was automatically disqualified.

Judges conferred to choose a category winner and one or more awards of merit.

If a judge was employed by, or did any work on the projects being considered, that judge was assigned to a different category.

Judges for the safety awards included Kai Kaoni, assistant professor of practice at Northern Arizona University; Dave Alben, vice president field operations, Jokake Construction; and Shannon Clark, safety and support manager, JB Henderson.

More than 30 projects were considered for safety awards based upon their OSHA incident rates, lost-time accidents, total worker-hours and the quality of the project’s safety programs.