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It’s never an easy task for our panels of industry judges to review all of the submissions from project teams to select the Best Projects winners, and this year was particularly difficult given the quality of work completed in the past year in the Southwest.

For more than 25 years, ENR Southwest has recognized the best in design and construction in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, and this year was no exception. The panelists reviewed around 80 entries in a variety of categories ranging from airport/transit to water/environment, examining factors such as safety, innovation, design execution, craft quality and community or industry benefit. Judges could select a Best Project, a market category winner, and an award of merit if warranted.

Projects were ineligible for an award if they had a construction-related death.

Thank you to the main category judges, listed below in alphabetical order:

  • Sergio Carrasco, project architect, Holly Street Studio
  • Dan Clevenger, principal and global cultural and performing arts leader, DLR Group
  • Michael D’Andrea, vice president of development and construction, GCON Inc.
  • Boe Evanson, project executive, Layton Construction
  • Kai Kaoni, associate professor of practice and principal engineer, Northern Arizona University School of Construction Management
  • Robert Lemke Jr., principal – transportation, Stantec
  • Ryan O’Donnell, operations director, Balfour Beatty
  • Cassie Saba Robertson, Southwest regional prefab leader, DPR Construction
  • James Trahan, partner | principal, 180 Degrees Design + Build

In addition to selecting category winners, judges have also chosen several finalists for ENR Southwest Project of the Year. The Beam on Farmer, located in Tempe, Ariz., and submitted by Mortenson, caught their attention for its warm palette and use of mass timber. Operation Allies Welcome, located in Alamogordo, N.M., and submitted by Fluor, was built quickly to serve an urgent need.

But receiving this year’s top honor as Project of the Year was the attention-getting Sphere Collar at the Venetian Resort, located in Las Vegas. The project was submitted by KHS&S into the specialty contracting category, which focuses on a specific trade or aspect of a project—in this case, the deceptively simple-looking sculptural EFIS base to the Sphere that in actuality was a one-of-a-kind effort.

temporary tent structures

Crews built 87 temporary tent structures and utilities on a site with no existing infrastructure for Operation Allies Welcome, which served as a receiving point for thousands of asylum-seeking Afghan citizens.
Photo courtesy Fluor

Special Recognition

The contest also acknowledges outstanding efforts in project safety and sustainability.

The Excellence in Safety award highlights projects that not only have an exemplary safety record, but also examines the team’s safety program and lessons learned that others in the industry can benefit from.

Entries for the award were judged by Timothy Bates, director of safety and health, Hensel Phelps, and Matt Gilliland, director of risk management and occupational health, Willmeng.

The winner of the Excellence in Safety award was the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project San Juan Lateral Block 4C-8, located in Gallup, N.M. The entry was submitted by Southland Holdings, and it also won an award of merit in the water/environment category.

The judges also selected an award of merit for safety for the Mayo Clinic East Expansion, located in Phoenix. That project was submitted by McCarthy Building Cos. and was also the Best Project in the health care category.

The Excellence in Sustainability award evaluates how well the project team executed its overall sustainability strategy, including implementing its choice of materials, lowering energy and water usage and reducing embodied carbon. Chris Kelly, design director at Architekton, reviewed this year’s entries.

The winner of the Excellence in Sustainability award was The Beam on Farmer, which also won a Best Project in the office/retail/mixed-use category.

Best Project-level winners, plus the special awardees, will now advance to the national level, competing with winners from nine other regions to be considered for ENR’s Best of the Best awards. Judging for the national contest will begin later this year, with results to be announced in early 2024.

The Beam on Farmer

The Beam on Farmer won multiple accolades from judges, including Best Project in the office/retail/mixed-use category, Excellence in Sustainability and Project of the Year Finalist.
Photo by Jason Roehner

Meet the Winning Teams

All winning project teams (both for Best Project and award of merit winners) will be recognized in Phoenix at a luncheon on Oct. 31 at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

At that event, ENR Southwest will also recognize several other award winners this year: Owner of the Year University of Arizona; Design Firm of the Year Architekton; Contractor of the Year Willmeng Construction; and Specialty Contractor of the Year Commercial Roofers Inc.

We will also recognize the 2023 Legacy Award winner, Suntec Concrete’s Jerry Barnier.

The Projects