As if selecting Best Projects and Awards of Merit in the various categories wasn’t challenging enough, we asked our ENR Midwest judges to go back and dig a little deeper to help determine our Project of the Year.

They reviewed, once again, the submissions earlier announced as Best Projects in all categories … and came up with three finalists for the top project in this massive region covering the states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa and Kentucky. The winner will be announced at November's ENR Midwest Best Projects event in Chicago.

In alphabetical order, the three finalists are:


Chicago Athletic Association Hotel: Earlier crowned Best Project in the Renovation/Restoration Category, this $106.8-million project was submitted by MEP engineer KJWW Engineering Consultants on behalf of owner CAA Owner Hotel LLC. Team members include:

  • General Contractor: Bulley & Andrews LLC
  • Owner: CAA Owner Hotel LLC
  • Lead Design Firm: Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture
  • Structural Engineer: Forefront Structural Engineers
  • Civil Engineer: SPACECO Inc.
  • MEP Engineer: KJWW Engineering Consultants
  • Exterior Restoration and Structural Façade Engineer: Wiss Janney Elstner Associates
  • Interior Designer: Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors

Overlooking Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, the Chicago Athletic Association building is on the National Register of Historic Places, having been designed by Henry Ives Cobb circa 1893 to house the eponymous social club founded by leading figures in American sport and athletic commerce. Featuring 241 guest rooms, the redeveloped property is comprised of 208,893 sq ft of existing space and 9,674 sq ft of new space from a rooftop addition.


Kansas City Downtown Streetcar: Earlier crowned Best Project in the Airport/Transit Category, this $102-million project was submitted by lead design firm HDR Engineering Inc. on behalf of owner City of Kansas City, Mo. Team members include:

  • General Contractor: KC Streetcar Constructors (Herzog/Stacy & Witbeck)
  • Owner: City of Kansas City, Mo.
  • Lead Design Firm: HDR Engineering Inc.
  • Consulting Engineer: Burns & McDonnell
  • Transit Agency: Kansas City Streetcar Authority

Nearly 60 years after its predecessor people carriers were taken off the rails, the 2.2-mi streetcar project has already proven to be an economic catalyst for downtown Kansas City. With extensive community collaboration, Main Street was reworked to include a dedicated center traffic lane, bicycle transportation enhancements and pedestrian safety upgrades. Four 78-ft-long, 12-ft-tall, 78,000-lb vehicles are integrated into Main Street on embedded block rail and powered via an overhead contact system.


Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo: Earlier crowned Best Project in the Sports/Enterainment Category, this $29-million project was submitted by the DeMaria/Wharton-Smith Joint Venture, the general contractor, on behalf of owner Detroit Zoological Society. Team members include:

  • General Contractor: DeMaria/Wharton-Smith Joint Venture
  • Owner: Detroit Zoological Society
  • Lead Design Firm: Albert Kahn Associates Inc.
  • Structural/MEP Engineer: Albert Kahn Associates Inc.
  • Civil Engineer: Alfred Benesch & Co. (a.k.a. Tucker, Young, Jackson Tull Inc.)
  • Animal Life Support and Filtration Systems: T.A. Maranda Consultants Inc.

The largest facility of its kind in the world capable of housing 120 penguins, the facility opened earlier this year as home to more than 80 penguins of four species, specifically gentoo, macaroni, rockhopper and king. A chilled 326,000-gallon, 25-ft-deep aquatic area allows visitors to watch as penguins explore their habitat and deep-dive—something that is otherwise impossible to see, even in the wild.


All ENR Midwest Best Project award recipients will be honored Nov. 30 in Chicago. Visit the event page for more information and/or to register.

At the event, we will also toast the firms that were selected throughout the year as the region's Owner, Design Firm, Contractor and Specialty Contractor of the Year. And, oh yeah, we will also recognize the ENR Midwest Legacy Award winners.

We can’t wait!