The March 21st issue of ENR Southwest will highlight the largest project starts in the region, something I’ve been doing for many years in Southwest Contractor as a sort of defacto year-in-review. Last June, I profiled 44 of the largest starts of 2009, which accounted for $3.5 billion in construction volume for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

Will 2010’s largest starts equal last year’s $3.5-billion total? Or does the continuous drum-beat of economic bad news mean the end of large-scale project starts in our region? I bet most observers would guess that the total value of 2010’s largest starts would be far less than the previous year. I think many of those observers will be surprised by the answer. 

But you’ll have to wait until the next issue of ENR Southwest to find out! 

In the meantime, here’s a preview of some of the 2010 project starts we’ll be covering next month, in no particular order. If you feel we are missing a major project, we’d love to hear from you. You’ll have a chance to provide feedback below.

One of only a handful of Nevada starts in this year’s list, the City of Las Vegas New City Hall is a $146.2-million project that started construction just as the calendar flipped to 2010. Designed by JMA and Elkus Manfredi, the seven-story project is being built by the Whiting-Turner Construction Co. You can read more about this project (and the North Las Vegas City Hall, which was among our 2009 Top Starts last year) in our
August/September 2010 issue.  

Red Mesa Wind Farm likely was New Mexico’s largest project start in 2010. Located near Seboyeta, the $215-million project should wrap up by next year under the direction of contractor Wanzek Construction.

Another renewable power plant, this one solar, is underway in Arizona. As 2010 drew to a close, construction of the Agua Caliente Solar Facility near Dateland and Hyder was bouyed by a $967-million loan guarantee by the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Originally developed by First Solar, the project was sold to NRG Energy late last year

There are several higher education projects making this year’s list. The largest is the Health Sciences Education Building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, a $129-million facility being built by the joint venture of DPR Construction and Sundt Construction for the Arizona Board of Regents.  
Meanwhile, Arizona State University’s Tempe, Ariz. campus will be the beneficiary of the $108.9-million Interdisciplinary Science Technology Building IV, which will bring together ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Fulton School of Engineering.

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ISTB IV on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University is progressing rapidly. Photo by Visions in Photography
Other higher education projects making the list include the University of New Mexico South Campus Student Apartments Phase 1, being built by Hardison/Downey Construction in Albuquerque at a cost of $47 million; and Grand Canyon University Events Center, being built in Phoenix by Perini Building Co.

Health care continues to be strong in the Southwest, especially in the Four Corners area. One such project is the $61.3-million Kayenta Health Center, which will provide dramatically improved facilities for the Navajo Nation. Another example is the $106-million San Carlos Apache Medical Center, designed by Rohde May Keller McNamara Architecture and being built by McCarthy Building Cos.

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Kayenta Health Center, Kayenta, Ariz. Rendering by Dekker/Perich/Sabatini

In Rio Rancho, N.M., Kitchell began construction on the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, which was also designed by Rohde May Keller McNamara Architecture. You can see why this architecture firm was selected as one of our
Six Companies to Watch in last month’s issue.

The Tucson area has its share of large-scale projects. The $71.2-million Casino del Sol expansion is underway now, with McCarthy Building Cos. adding a 10-story hotel tower and 1,099-space parking garage. We wrote about the project in our April/May issue.

The Unisource Energy Tower, a 12-story (plus three levels of below-grade parking) major addition to the downtown Tucson skyline, is being built by Ryan Companies US Inc., another of our Six Companies to Watch.

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Unisource Energy Tower takes shape in downtown Tucson. Photo Dan Bergstein/Ryan Cos. US Inc.

The list is rounded out by highway projects in Nevada and Arizona, several government office buildings, a wastewater treatment facility, a retirement community and even a commercial office building.

Are you working on a large-scale project that broke ground in 2010? If the construction cost is over $40 million, it may make the list of Top Starts. And it’s never too early to start promoting your Top Starts of 2011 too. Please contact me at or leave your suggestions below for consideration.

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