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Innovation is the thread that connects ENR Southeast’s 2022 Regional Best Projects award winners, whether in solving specific problems with novel solutions, in building facilities not seen anywhere else or in navigating the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In all, this year’s panels of judges reviewed 93 submissions, ultimately choosing 32 winners that showcase a diverse set of projects, from airports and rocket launch systems to high-rises and a project at a nuclear power station that took just 12 days.

Those projects stood out for the challenges they faced and how those challenges were overcome, for innovative ideas and outstanding quality of work. Sixteen of this year’s winners will take home the title of Best Project in their category, and 15 were given awards of merit.


GEODIS Park, Nashville SC’s new stadium, took home the Best Project title in the sports/entertainment category.
Photo courtesy Mortenson | Messer

Many of this year’s winners, projects that had to be completed between May 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022, broke ground just as the

COVID-19 pandemic brought restrictions to the workplace, requiring a rethinking of how workers occupied the jobsite, how they got to and from the site and adding layers of safety concerns. As the pandemic dragged on, its residual issues came to bear: labor shortages and materials delays that left project teams finding creative ways to stay on schedule.

ENR Southeast’s expert panel of judges included Keith Douglas, The Whiting Turner Contracting Co.; Dan Nawrocki, PC Construction; Ray Riddle, Holder Construction; Ron Whalen, Roger B. Kennedy Construction; Valerie Bono, Barnhill Contracting; Mike Dare, Robins & Morton; and Robbie Ferris, SFLA Architects. Joshua Bullock, Gray, reviewed this year’s Excellence in Safety nominees. With just two applications for the Excellence in Sustainability award, this year’s judges elected to abstain from awarding honors in the category for 2022.

SR 679 (Pinellas Bayway

SR 679 (Pinellas Bayway) Structure E Design-Build won Best Project in this year’s highway/bridge category.
Photo courtesy American Bridge Co.

Standing out

This year’s Project of the Year Finalists include a first-of-its-kind airport facility designed to speed passengers through the boarding process and an exquisite performing arts center that’s already played host to top-tier acts.

At Tampa International Airport, where capacity is being strained by an expected increase of 17 million travelers over the next decade, the new Blue Express Curbside opened in November to provide passengers who aren’t checking baggage an expedited route to their gates.

Working within the tight confines of a working airport also impressed judges. Many underground utilities had to be relocated while keeping the airport operational, and numerous schedule and phasing iterations were hammered out to ensure passenger access remained uninterrupted.

“We describe this project as almost like doing open-heart surgery,” says Dan Seeley, senior manager of construction for Tampa International Airport. “We’re building a building that’s under a building between two buildings and surrounded by cars.”

Drew Krizman, program director with Hensel Phelps, stresses the same logistical challenges.

“So just thinking about how to get in, how to get out, staging materials, the logistics of hoisting—there were a lot of challenges there that we had to work through,” he says.

Meanwhile, Belmont University’s The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville was called a once-in-a-lifetime project and compared to a musical instrument itself by R.C. Mathews project manager Scott Morgan. The facility is more than a learning lab for students—it’s a venue that stands out even in The Music City, with versatile elements built into the facility to tune the space to everything from a theater production to a rock concert. It was an effort that required and benefited from close communication and teamwork.

“That really is what makes a project like that so fun to be on,” Morgan says. “You’re motivated to come work on it, and everybody wanting to go above and beyond, putting in 110%.”

It took more than a little innovation and ingenuity to make the versatile 1,700-seat performance hall a reality, including the use of truck bed liner to tamp down the resonance of decorative metal panels for the hall’s ornamental ceiling.

Vulcan Centaur Infrastructure Activations

Vulcan Centaur Infrastructure Activations, a project to renovate an active rocket launch pad, won Best Project for specialty construction.
Photo courtesy Matt Good

Staying Safe

The two projects recognized for their safety efforts and records among this year’s award winners took innovative and proactive measures to ensure that the workers who make these projects a reality remained safe.

In North Carolina, the renovation of a former outlet mall into a high-performance laboratory and office space earned the Excellence in Safety award and was also won a Best Project in the renovation/restoration category.

The Invitae – East Coast Laboratory and Production Facility work included procedures that safety judge Bullock said checked many of the boxes he would expect to see from a safety standpoint as the project team navigated the delivery of outside air systems via helicopter.

Fountain Inn High School in South Carolina won two awards of merit, recognized in both the safety and K-12 education categories. Spread across 65 acres, the 230,000-sq-ft school had to be built without using a large portion of the site for laydown or storage, creating a whole list of concerns, Bullock says. Through almost 355,000 worker-hours, the project had no lost-time accidents or recordable incidents.

The Winter Park Library

The Winter Park Library, designed by architect Sir David Adjaye, won Best Project in the cultural/worship category.
Photo courtesy Ben Tanner Photography

Honoring the Best

The 32 projects showcased in the following pages represent the best in their sector, from a world-class soccer stadium and multifamily development built of shipping containers to a luxurious Atlanta hotel and a Florida nursing home for veterans.

All winning projects as well as ENR Southeast 2022 firms of the year and the Legacy Award winner will be honored in Atlanta on Nov. 11 at the Atlanta Airport Marriott. Read on to learn more about this year’s Best Projects winners.

The Projects