It takes hard work and determination to succeed in Alaska’s construction industry, and every year presents new challenges for Alaska contractors. But a supportive network of friends and associates who come together to recognize a job well done, and celebrate that effort, makes it feel worthwhile.
The Parker, Smith & Feek Excellence in Construction Awards are one way the Associated General Contractors of Alaska gets to recognize the outstanding work being done in our great state. Companies provide a detailed overview of their chosen projects for each category, and a team of industry professionals gathers to do the difficult work of determining which projects meet the standard of excellence.
Winners — eight of them this year — were announced Nov. 9 at the Parker, Smith & Feek “Excellence in Construction” awards luncheon during the AGC of Alaska 2018 Annual Conference held at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage. Here’s a hat-tip to each of the hard-working awardees.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Under $5 Million Vertical Construction
Contractor: Davis Constructors & Engineers Inc.
Project: The Dome Reconstruction
After a heavy snow load collapsed one of the world’s largest air-supported structures, JL Properties and Davis Constructors & Engineers took on the challenge of repairing and re-inflating the massive Anchorage sports facility. The 4-acre, 85-foot-tall structure, a huge fabric balloon, is held down by cables and held up by pressurized air. Teams worked tirelessly to bring it back for the Anchorage community. Bright, modern LED lighting, a worldclass artificial turf, and numerous improvements and additions turned the project from a re-inflation into a total renovation. The project was completed on time and on budget within a single construction season.
“It’s always rewarding to be recognized by our peers in the industry. Alaska projects are always so unique — the Dome is a perfect example: tight timeline and unknown existing conditions with a challenging budget defined the project. We are proud to be part of the team that put it back together,” said Luke Blomfield, president of Davis Constructors & Engineers.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Between $5 Million and $15 Million Vertical Construction
Contractor: Cornerstone General Contractors
Project: West High School/Romig Middle School Integrated Media Center (IMC) Wing Renovation
The shared library of West Anchorage High School and Romig Middle School suffered major structural damage from the aftermath of the 7.1-magnatude earthquake that struck Alaska on Jan. 23, 2016. Cornerstone renovated the existing library, adjacent classrooms and administration and counseling center of the Anchorage School District facility. Concrete foundations were installed to augment the existing library to keep the structural integrity in the event of another large earthquake. Project scope also included the renovation of computer labs, hallways, lockers and mechanical rooms. This project is an example of working quickly and collaboratively to provide upgrades to aging educational space.
“It is an honor to be acknowledged by AGC for this incredible community project. After the earthquake damaged the library, the school district began investigating the damage and, ultimately, designing the needed repairs. Once selected to join the process, our team acted swiftly to add the needed structural upgrades to the IMC and nearby classrooms, all while planning around the safety of students, faculty and staff. In addition, some of the crew members who worked on this project are alumni to West, so being a part of improving this school meant a great deal to Cornerstone,” said Cornerstone project manager Brian Ginder.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Over $15 Million Vertical Construction
Contractor: Davis Constructors & Engineers Inc.
Project: University of Alaska Fairbanks Engineering, Learning and Innovation Facility
Welcoming students in January 2018, the UAF Engineering Learning and Innovation Facility (ELIF) provides a much needed and modern space for engineering science and discovery. As the newest addition to the University of Alaska System, the 149,000-square-foot project includes a new 119,000-squarefoot, six-story building and 30,000 square feet of renovation to existing facilities. A 48-foot, high-bay testing lab with a 4-foot-thick reinforced concrete floor; a minus-67-degree cold room; and 40 new laboratories are all enclosed in a saw-tooth glass and steel-clad exterior. Funding issues and completing critical path components were yearly challenges for Davis Constructors & Engineers.
“Being recognized as an Excellence winner is something Davis is proud of. The caliber of competition, coupled with the scale and complexity of constructing projects in Alaska should be celebrated,” said Jed Shandy, vice president of Davis Constructors & Engineers.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Under $5 Million Transportation, Marine, Heavy, Earthmoving
Contractor: Dirtworks Inc.
Project: Toklat River Camp, MP 58 Denali National Park Road
Toklat River Camp lies at 3,000 feet elevation in the heart of Denali National Park at the base of Divide Mountain. Failing water and sewer utilities prompted the design of a
unique utility improvement project in a remote wilderness. Dirtworks Inc. won the proposal to construct new water, sewer, electrical utilities and aggregate production in spring 2017. Through a grueling year of extreme weather and long summer working hours, the project was completed on budget and within the tight schedule.
“Dirtworks Inc. is a small civil contractor from Palmer, striving for growth. This year’s project in Denali National Park represented not only a major challenge for us but also a big step in the right direction for our company. The Parker, Smith & Feek Award for Construction Excellence represents the pinnacle of the industry for project performance. The award for meeting the challenges of a civil project under $5 million, in a field of seven applicants, has been this company’s most credible accomplishment in the commercial sector to date. Dirtworks’ small size means that every member of our crew had their boots on the ground for this project, from our secretary to our president. Winning this award was a huge accomplishment and honor for every employee at Dirtworks and a big validation for the work we put into this project," said Scott Johnson, vice president of Dirtworks Inc.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Between $5 Million and $15 Million, Transportation, Marine, Heavy, Earthmoving
Contractor: Turnagain Marine Construction
Project: Gary Paxton Industrial Park Multi-Purpose Dock in Sitka
Turnagain Marine Construction was selected as the best-value design-build proposer to complete the construction of the Gary Paxton Industrial Park Facility. Turnagain retrofitted an American Bureau of Shipping, or ABS-class, barge with a new coating system, high-capacity wear deck and cathodic protection to achieve a 50-year design life. Onsite construction consisted of two 48-inch diameter, 180-foot-long plumb piles with a 30-inch diameter, 140-foot long batter pile that were rock anchored into bedrock. To complete the facility a 19-foot-by-82-foot transfer span, concrete abutment, concrete approach apron, dry fire line and electrical system were installed.
“That project for us was pretty special. We really focus on designbuild; we kind of advocate for designbuild in the state of Alaska. That project had been attempted to be constructed for almost a decade. The state was on the verge of taking the city’s money back because they had been unable to implement a project, not through the fault of anyone there. When they were able to use the design-build system, we were able to help make that project happen,” said Turnagain President Jason Davis.
“They had a fairly limited amount of funding and a basic amount of need that was really a stretch to be able to achieve for the funding available. The nice thing was, we were able to really collaborate together and get them what they wanted for the money. This award specifically is really meaningful to Turnagain; it really acknowledges what we’re trying to accomplish in the design-build arena in the Alaska market. When we’re pursuing negotiated work, our reputation is what a lot of our clients are looking at. When we can show we have achieved a really high level of excellence on past projects like this, it gives us a lot of credibility as we move forward,” he added.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Over $15 Million, Transportation, Marine, Heavy, Earthmoving
Contractor: Quality Asphalt Paving (QAP)
Project: Galena Airport Improvements
The Galena Airport project consisted of settlement repairs in 2017, followed by a full airport reconstruction completing by August 2019. In 2018 construction involved milling over 400,000 square yards of existing asphalt, importing over 100,000 cubic yards of sub-base to raise the runway elevation and improve drainage, and paving 47,000 tons of Type II asphalt on newly established grade. In addition to civil improvements, the entire electrical system received upgrades to newer and more efficient lighting fixtures as well as upgrading from old military infrastructure to new, safer electrical equipment.
Excellence in Construction Award for a Specialty Contractor: Transportation, Marine, Heavy, Earthmoving
Contractor: Orion Marine Contractors Inc.
Project: Parks Highway Church to Pittman (MP 45-50) Bridge Construction
Orion Marine joined the Knik Construction team to construct a vital roadway expansion on the Parks Highway between Church Road and Pitman Road. Orion’s portion of the work required construction of a 225-foot-long single-span bridge over the active railroad tracks. Orion developed work plans and elaborate lifting plans. Given the congested construction area, Orion used the largest crane in Alaska to assemble and set the 170-ton spans in one section. Orion devised a state-of-the-art rigging system and positioned the crane to achieve this one-of-a-kind lift.
“The Orion Marine Group team appreciates recognition for delivering difficult and technically challenging projects that are ever present in Alaska. This bridge project had a number of unique challenges and construction improvement opportunities that required innovative approaches. (This project) further demonstrates why unconventional innovation to project challenges is something that benefits the client, the construction industry and our great state of Alaska. (Receiving the award) motivates our team and others in the industry while validating our core principals of delivering success on Alaskan projects. The benefit is to lead in general contracting and specialization within that,” said DS Hogan, Orion Marine’s director of operations in Alaska.
Sustainability in Construction Award
Contractor: STG Inc.
Project: Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, or AVEC, St. Mary’s and Bethel Wind Generation
STG was contracted by Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) to build out two EWT-brand wind turbines to reduce reliance on diesel fuel and to provide additional energy sources for the communities of Bethel and Saint Mary’s. Specifics of this project involved barging materials to site locations, building all civil access roads and pads, thermosyphon installation for cooling, pile-supported foundations, concrete base, turbine erection, and electrical distribution and interconnection. The project plans were based on STG’s previous experience with similar build-outs in rural Alaska. State and federal grants, along with contributions from AVEC, funded this project.
“This project is meaningful because it progresses both STG’s and AVEC’s core values, which are to build sustainable infrastructure and to be the best Alaskan utility, respectfully. The remarkable work by the team, partners and client is deserving of this award, and we are proud to celebrate all the hard work. This project represents an effort that focuses on environmentally responsible and sustainable energy sources that will benefit the communities of Bethel and St. Mary’s for years to come. The install of two EWT 900kW wind turbines will significantly reduce the local utility reliance on diesel fuel and will make use of the abundance of alternative wind energy present in the region. The installation of these complex units in rural Alaska’s moderate to semi-thawing permafrost required state-of-the-art engineering, specialized equipment and highly skilled crews to safely construct these turbines. This award underscores STG’s high-caliber team and commitment to deliver the highest quality projects in remote and logistically complex areas of the state,” said STG president Brennan Walsh.