2020 Project Leadership Award Winners


The Construction Owners Association of America (COAA) announced the winners of their annual Project Leadership Awards virtually on November 12, kicking off the organization’s fall conference. The awards acknowledge and promote leadership, professionalism, and management excellence by Owners involved in the design and construction process.

This year the committee selected a gold, silver, and a newly launched “The COAA Way” category.

“We’re particularly excited to announce the creation of The COAA Way award designation.  The new designation recognizes the principles that a team of people led by a good Owner, sharing best practices in a culture built on trust and respect will complete better projects”  said Miles Albertson, chair of the Project Leadership Award committee.  He went on to add “On behalf of all our members, I congratulate this year’s winners and commend them on their outstanding efforts.”

Gold Award

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh earned the Gold designation for their Exhibit Staging Center (ESC) project.  Originally built in the 1960s, the goal was to convert an old building that  originally served as a maintenance garage into a multi-purpose space now utilized as a workshop, administrative offices, storage facilities, and fitness and yoga areas. The ESC was designed to achieve the Living Building Challenge (LBC), LEED® Platinum and WELL Platinum certification.


The work and craftsmanship of the construction team had to excel to successfully bring this ambitious re-imagining of a dated and dilapidated building to fruition. The 8,750 square foot multi-use facility generates its own power; the lighting system runs on Direct Current; geothermal wells heat and cool the space; all storm and sanitary water is captured and cleaned and indoor air quality is monitored by an system.

Silver Award

The most important contributor to the Michigan State University (MSU) Minskoff Pavilion project’s success was the use of the IPD approach to project management. IPD enabled representatives from the Eli Broad College of Business and MSU to participate directly in committee discussions that managed the Pavilion project. Representatives were able to specify conditions of satisfaction at the project’s initiation and then participate in decision making that led to satisfaction of those conditions as design and construction took place. Consequently, decisions were timely, the project came in at the budgeted cost, and the resulting building is truly an iconic structure. MSU believes the combination of cost and quality goals would not have been achieved without IPD management.

The COAA Way Award

The Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building (ILSB) is a 133,416 GSF teaching and research building at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in Catonsville, Maryland. The building was designed to accommodate both teaching and research space as well as core facilities including a .

A key factor  contributing to the success of the UMBC ILSB was the unyielding belief by the project team that all partners from the Owner, architect, and construction manager  would work together, maintain constant communication, look out for each other without placing blame and collaborate to find solutions. The entire project team had a clear understanding of these core values.

About The Project Leadership Award

COAA has presented the Project Leadership Award since 2001. The award is  conferred upon Owners demonstrate exceptional leadership and project management skills, including vision, integrity, team building, communication, fairness, problem resolution, decision-making, plan implementation, and more.

The Project Leadership Award is open to both public and private Owners. Owners do not have to be a member of COAA to submit an entry. The program is open to all types of construction projects, e.g. healthcare facilities, government buildings, manufacturing plants, educational/research facilities, etc. Renovation and new construction projects, large or small, are eligible for the award. Project size and cost will not be contributing or deciding factors.