Judging has been completed for McGraw-Hill Construction’s third annual Best of the Best Awards, and of the 21 winners, four were from the southwest region – more than any other section of the country. The national competition recognizes design and construction excellence based on regional winners of McGraw-Hill Construction’s 10 regional publications’ Best of 2010 Awards.

Of the over 1,500 entries nationwide, 255 moved on to compete in the national Best of the Best awards. We had an outstanding panel of distinguished judges this year, from design professionals to general contractors, real estate experts to professors, CEOs to principals. Projects were judged on safety, innovation, contribution to the industry/community, aesthetic and functional quality of design, and construction craftsmanship.

Winner of the Best Cultural Project was the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. The project, submitted by RSP Architects and Ryan Companies US, Inc., is beautifully designed and timeless, according to one judge, adding “It will not look dated in 20 years.”

As the world’s first global musical instrument museum, the 190,000-sq-ft building houses more than 12,000 instruments and objects, representing musical traditions from folk and electronic to ritual and classical. A 450-ft serpentine space serves as an organizing element uniting the entry courtyard with the interior spaces. The naturally lit two-story area orients guests as they move through the museum’s extensive galleries and collection. The performance theater is tunable to accommodate exotic acoustic instruments as well as electric instruments. The blending of Indian Sandstone, cherry wood and curved ceilings combine to mimic that of a well crafted instrument.
blog post photo
Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix. Photo: © Bill Timmerman

The Schuff Perini Climber at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix won Best Small Project (Under $10 Million). Submitted by Perini Building Co., this interactive children’s climber is 37 ft tall and is made of 50 tons of structural steel, fabricated and erected by Schuff Steel. Because every piece of steel is uniquely placed at an angle, each had to be input into a computer model. Loading the structure with a multitude of one-of-a-kind appendages, including a bathtub, a boat, a rocket and a gang plank, was equally challenging. Over 30 construction-related companies donated their time and services to make the project a reality. 

The judges were blown away by the complex 3D modeling paired with a childlike whimsy. One judge said “I don't know how in the world they built it, but it's just amazing!”
blog post photo
Schuff Perini Climber, Phoenix.

The University of New Mexico, Cancer Center in Albuquerque won Best Health Care Project. Submitted by the project’s architect, Rohde May Keller McNamara Architecture, the
five-story spa-like facility includes a light wells in the main lobby and a 200-ft-long channel glass wall that provides sustainable natural lighting. A sense of welcome and comfort is established with amenities such as a fireplace and meditation spaces. A rooftop garden allows patients to enjoy the outdoors without interrupting treatment while natural materials emphasize the surrounding environment. All of this contributes to the center’s uncommon spa-like atmosphere. 

One judge said that while this is a place where people go because they are in deep pain, the architecture works hard to make people’s lives more comfortable.
blog post photo
University of New Mexico, Cancer Center, Albuquerque. Photo: Kirk Gittings
The winner of Best Higher Education/Research Project was the City of Phoenix Arizona State University College of Nursing & Health Innovation, submitted by the Phoenix offices of general contractor DPR Construction and project architect SmithGroup. The City wanted an urban structure balancing functional needs with innovative design. Despite tight budget constraints, the project team more than delivered. An elegant blend of three basic copper panel profiles creates a stunning exterior envelope. Copper was chosen for its sustainability, aesthetic appeal and its legacy as a key export for the state of Arizona. Shooting for LEED silver, the project could attain gold.

One judge said “They’ve done a great job with the entire downtown campus to attract students, and now this top-notch building fits into that whole as part of the urban fabric.” 
blog post photo
City of Phoenix Arizona State University College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Phoenix.

National finalists included the Atrisco Heritage Academy High School in Albuquerque, N.M. in the K-12 Education category; University of Arizona Student Recreation Center Expansion in Tucson, Ariz. for Sports/Recreation Project; Sagewood Phase 1 in Phoenix, Ariz. for Residential/Hospitality; The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nev. as Best Architectural Design; and Elements Townhomes Phase I, Albuquerque, N.M., in the Best Small Project category. Each of these projects scored among the top three in each national category.

Winners will be profiled in the Jan. 24, 2011 issue of Engineering News-Record. The regional winners, previously announced in Southwest Contractor
, will be honored in several awards banquets over the next two weeks. On Dec. 7th, the Arizona awards will be held at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. Registration is at 8 a.m. The Nevada awards are held on Dec. 8th at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino.

Registration is at 7:30 a.m. The New Mexico Awards are being held on Dec. 14th at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North, beginning at 11 a.m. 

To attend Phoenix or Las Vegas, go to http://www.construction.com/events/bestof2010/register.asp
 To attend the Albuquerque event, click http://www.acecnm.org/docs/Best%20Of%2010%20Registration%20Form.pdf or email  ACECNM@ACECNM.org

Follow SWContractor on Twitter