The April 11 issue of ENR California magazine will take a look at this year’s top project starts (of 2010) ranking and feature our selection of the Owner of the Year. Here’s a sneak peak:

This year’s Top Starts ranking shows that California took full advantage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and other available federal funds to get a number of projects off the ground last year. In fact, three of the top four project starts received stimulus funding or the FTA’s New Starts funds.

Though I won’t give away all the Top Starts, the number one slot is no real surprise – the huge LAX Bradley West International Terminal Expansion in Los Angeles. And while large healthcare projects placed six out of the top 10 on last year’s list, transportation projects have taken over this time around, scoring five out of the top 10.

The list, as usual, is based on company submissions of projects’ construction value.

Our Owner of the Year is one of the state’s largest employers of construction and design professionals – Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente.

The Owner of the Year selection is based on a variety of criteria, including volume of work in a region; economic, social and environmental success; setting high standards for worker safety; advocating and adopting innovative construction methods; and use of progressive project methods. Kaiser Permanente, which provides health care to nearly 9 million people, excelled in every one of those considerations.

Its 3,000-employee National Facilities Services Department (NFS) is fully immersed in what it describes as “one of the most ambitious construction programs in the history of American healthcare,” targeting more than $2.9 billion in annual capital improvements nationwide and with building and expansion expected to continue through 2020. About $2.1 billion of that effort is currently flowing into cash-strapped California, where Kaiser Permanente spends an annual average of $850 million on labor.

In the northern portion of the state alone, Kaiser Permanente has between 1,800 to 2,000 building projects underway at any given time and just over $1 billion is being spent on construction and maintenance of existing hospitals and medical buildings. In Southern California, the Kaiser Permanente program is spreading about $1.1 billion annually around a region particularly hard-hit by economic woes.

These stories plus a Digging Deeper story on a huge solar thermal plant in the Mojave Desert highlight the issue.

Attention Design Firms:
Our annual Top Design Firms in California ranking is currently taking submissions, so don’t miss out. Click here for a survey form.