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The 2023 ENR Northwest Best Projects competition featured a host of innovative projects that spanned the construction and design spectrum.

Projects included an emergency seismic retrofitting of a critical bridge, the complete renovation of a major financial institution’s home and an revolutionary ocean wave energy testing facility. This year’s winners grappled with pandemic-related safety measures and supply chain issues to find innovative solutions and produce exemplary feats of construction expertise.

From the 26 projects submitted in this year’s Northwest Best Projects competition, an independent panel of industry judges selected 14 for Best Project honors and seven for awards of merit.

A team of judges, selected from all corners of the AEC community, spent a month reviewing entries for achievement in five areas: project challenges and solutions, safety programs, innovative design and construction solutions, contribution to the construction industry and the community as well as design quality and craftsmanship. Projects were ineligible for an award if they had a construction-related death.

The judges independently reviewed the entries, scored each project on specific criteria and then convened virtually with fellow judges to finalize their choices for Best Projects, awards of merit and Project of the Year. Judges were asked to recuse themselves in cases of conflict of interest.

Port of Alaska

Replacing the Port of Alaska’s primary petroleum dock and the state’s only bulk cement-handling dock involved a host of challenges.
Photo by Zach Wallace

This year’s judges were: Kyle Boehnlein, vice president, JE Dunn Construction; Shane Ruegamer, interim director of the project delivery group for the University of Washington; and Anne Timmermans, PM/CM group lead for Seattle and Bremerton at Parametrix.

Two more independent panels selected the winners of the special awards for sustainability and safety. The judges for the Excellence in Safety award were Alan Hayes, safety director, California, at JTM Construction Group, and Brian Sorensen, director of safety, Exxel Pacific Inc. Raven Adams, sustainability manager for Granite Construction, and Erin McConahey, principal at ARUP, judged the Excellence in Sustainability award.

The Best Project winners will now advance to the national level where they will compete with the winners from nine other ENR regions for the magazine’s Best of the Best awards. Judging for the national contest will begin later this year, and the results will be announced in early 2024.

The Excellence in Safety Award has been a part of the competition for more than a decade, and the Excellence in Sustainability award is in its third year. The judges recognized two safety winners and two sustainability winners. Judges also chose three contenders for Project of the Year, the regional contest’s highest honor.

The two finalists were La Conner Swinomish Library (Best Project in the cultural/worship category) and Ovation Apartment Towers (Best Project in the residential/hospitality category). The Project of the Year honors went to the Microsoft Thermal Energy Center (Best Project for energy/industrial). It also won the Excellence in Sustainability award. The winning project teams will be celebrated in Seattle on Dec. 15 at the Grand Hyatt Seattle.