For 20 years now, ENR Southeast’s annual Best Projects competition has recognized the region’s best examples of outstanding construction and design, thereby showcasing the myriad components that go into building a great project. Each year, the group of award winners collectively represents not only the construction industry’s current state of the art but also celebrates the aspirations and lofty, real-world achievements of its participants.

It’s fitting, then, in this year of a pandemic, that this current class of Best Projects award winners stands tall, seemingly reminding us of the greatness that the construction industry can—and often does—achieve, even as contractors and designers endure the current market slowdown.

One has to look no further than this year’s three Project of the Year finalists: Georgia Tech’s Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design; the Jones County New K-12 School; and this year’s top honoree, the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood Hotel & Casino. With both Kendeda and Jones County K-12 boasting their own various singular achievements—as readers will learn—either of the two projects would have proved a deserving honoree of the top prize. Instead, it was the spectacularly fascinating achievement of a 450-ft-tall guitar-shaped hotel, the crown jewel of a $1.5-billion casino complex expansion, that won the day, and this year’s Project of the Year award. And deservedly so, with Seminole Hard Rock’s hard-rocking spirit seemingly echoing the audacity that lies at the heart of many of construction’s greatest achievements.

ENR Southeast thanks the industry professionals who gave their time and talent to review, discuss and finally determine this year’s award winners. The judges—who scored 114 entries on the criteria of overcoming challenges and teamwork; safety; innovation; contribution to community; construction quality and craftsmanship; and design—included: Jamie Breme, business development with Fluor Corp., Greenville, S.C.; Keith Douglas, executive vice president, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Atlanta; Cary Perkins, architect and associate principal, McMillan Pazdan Smith, Greenville, S.C.; Ray Riddle, vice president, Holder Construction, Atlanta; Bobby Teachey, project manager, Brownstone Construction Group, North Charleston, S.C.; and Ron Whalen, vice president, Roger B. Kennedy Construction, Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Contributing their expertise in matters of construction safety to determine this year’s Excellence in Safety award were Al Villarreal, director of field excellence with Kaufman Lynn Construction, Delray Beach, Fla., and Bill Walker, vice president of risk management for SPC Mechanical, Wilson, N.C.

The following pages offer details of this year’s winners.