'03 ARC Awards

I'm pleased to unveil the winners of this, our second ARC Awards competition. For a refresher, the awards, short for Advancing, Reinvigorating and Cultivating excellence in engineering, is not necessarily a competition about the "best" buildings or designs but about designs and designers that find the right solutions, often by going outside the box.

12/01/2003


I'm pleased to unveil the winners of this, our second ARC Awards competition. For a refresher, the awards, short for Advancing, Reinvigorating and Cultivating excellence in engineering, is not necessarily a competition about the "best" buildings or designs but about designs and designers that find the right solutions, often by going outside the box. Indeed, despite the acronym, the heart of the award is not about words, but actions—engineers taking something from point A to point B by literally and figuratively reaching over given obstacles.

In last year's introduction to the awards, I stated that engineers are often accused of practicing "cookie cutter" design or being afraid to move beyond minimally accepted standards and practices. While in some cases this may be true, we all know that there are plenty of engineers who are not afraid to deviate from the straight line, and we wish to salute them.

In choosing this year's winners, ideas seeded at the U.S. Green Building Council's recent GreenBuild conference perhaps took root in our minds, for two of our winners are new projects striving for LEED certification: the San Mateo County Sheriff's Forensic Lab and Affiliated Engineer's new green headquarters in Madison, Wis. Our third winner, the Ellis County Courthouse in Waxahachie, Texas, is a renovation, but an important one, not only for preserving a historic building, but also for how it addresses serious fire protection issues in an older building—something especially important given the fires that struck two unsprinklered Chicago office buildings in recent months.

Back to some ground rules and disclaimers. We asked participants to submit projects for consideration based on a number of criteria: unique building systems; use of new or unusual technologies; energy efficiency; sustainability; system and interdisciplinary integration and interaction; architectural considerations; innovative solutions to various project challenges; and ultimately, a subjective measure—did we feel "wowed?"

We received a number of excellent submissions, and it came down to some of those out-of-the-box solutions to distinguish our winners. The sheriff's lab, for example, not only incorporates solar power, its entire roof is a photovoltaic structure, and much of the building's energy is drawn from this system. Affiliated Engineer's new office is not so different from many other suburban office buildings. In fact, that's its beauty; it's a LEED-caliber building, yet it was delivered for a price comparable to similar offices of its class. Finally, the courthouse project, in a way, is also a tribute to the concept of sustainability in that its rejuvenation means a new courthouse, and the materials, fuels and emissions usually associated with such an undertaking were averted. Furthermore, in this reporter's opinion, it kept a cool looking building on the books. Congratulations to all of our winners!





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