ENR Midwest’s independent panel of judges curated a list of 112 entries in this year’s Best Projects competition and selected 32 winners.

The projects that moved construction forward across the region included a Minnesota soccer stadium with a striking PTFE roof and upper structure, the restoration and renovation of three structures on the National Register of Historic Places, the extension of Chicago’s Riverwalk and even some fun projects like Starbucks’ largest roastery store. As dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has become a part of life, this year’s list also includes two emergency alternate care facilities delivered in record time to deal with the pandemic.

ENR Midwest will be honoring the winners and this year’s firms of the year, including Owner of the Year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—which developed some winning Best Projects—Contractor of the Year Turner Construction, Design Firm of the Year Goettsch Partners and our Specialty Contractor of the Year, mechanical and fire protection contractor JF Ahern, at the first ever all virtual Best Projects event on Dec. 3.

The judges chose not to select a winner in the airport/transit category this year, based on the standards set by projects that have won in the past such as the Milwaukee Intermodal Train Shed and the American Airlines Stinger Gate at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. There also were no entries in the water/environment category this year.

A team of eight judges generously donated time and expertise in judging a group of entrants that ranged from emergency railroad repairs to the latest in sports stadium technology, and even a project that rethought how public housing is developed and built. Special thanks to judges Danielle Dy Buncio, president and CEO of ViaTechnik; Laura Young, CEO of Griskelis Young Harrell; Geoff Weisenberger, editor of Modern Steel Construction magazine; Steve Zimmerman, associate principal at Wiss Janney Elstner Associates; Lynda Leigh, project executive of the Willis Tower repositioning at Turner Construction; William Haas, associate vice president at AECOM; Jeff Emrick, director of safety and compliance at Ozinga; and Sam Mishelow, chief strategy officer at Meyer Najem Construction.

The renovation/restoration and highway/bridge categories were among the most competitive fields, and judges had a difficult task in winnowing down entrants to just one Best Project and award of merit winner.

Safety judges Jeff Emrick and Sam Mishelow were challenged with comparing safety projects across a wide swath of project types and sizes. For the second year in a row, ENR Midwest has given an award of merit for safety on a small project under $10 million, demonstrating that safety is important on all projects, even those without massive worker hours.

To register for ENR Midwest’s virtual Best Projects event, visit https://www.enr.com/enr-best-projects-awards/chicago.