2021 Project Leadership Awards

Posted By: Lucie Castro Get Involved, Membership, News, The COAA Way,

The Construction Owners Association of America (COAA) announced winners of the annual Project Leadership Awards on November 18, kicking off the second day of the COAA Connect Fall 2021 conference in Henderson, NV.  The awards acknowledge and promote leadership, professionalism, and management excellence by Owners involved in the design and construction process.

This year the committee selected winners in the gold, silver, and “The COAA Way” categories.

“We’re particularly excited to be in person this year, and grateful that one of the winners was able to attend” remarked Joe Sprys, Immediate Past President COAA.  He went on to add “the Project Leadership Awards reflect the extraordinary work and professionalism in 2020 amidst unprecedented circumstances that the pandemic placed on the construction industry.  On behalf of all our members, I congratulate this year’s winners and commend them on their outstanding efforts.”

Gold Award

The Anna Hiss Gymnasium renovation at the University of Texas sought to repair and rehabilitate the entire 55,240 SF building to support the university’s partnership with the Army Futures Command modernization program and support research and academic programs for Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Fine Arts.

The UT Owner team was integral to the overall success of the project.  It was the Owner’s vision and determination to maintain the existing building and gymnasium spaces that drove the project from the very beginning.  Their selection of the new building users, decisions regarding which services could and could not be provided for those users, and the overall dedication to preserving what made the building “special” were all critical factors.  The Owner was actively involved, which allowed decisions to be made quickly and effectively and helped keep the project on schedule.  Their continuous active engagement and steady guidance allowed the design and construction professionals to do what they do best without interference. 

Silver Award

In June of 2019, the decision was made by leadership of the MD Anderson Cancer Center to move the Virginia Harris Cockrell Cancer Research Center (Science Park), located in the Buescher State Park in Smithville (TX), to existing MD Anderson facilities within the Houston Medical Center. This move would involve the relocation of 14 research laboratories, six core functions, roughly 120 scientists and support staff, and approximately 7,500 mice from Smithville to Houston.  Work included major demolition and renovation of MEP systems, converting administrative spaces into laboratory spaces, and work in three separate vivariums. In total, 30+ laboratories with more than 2,000 pieces of research equipment were relocated.

To make this possible, MD Anderson used a creative and thoughtful approach that involved executing several sub-projects through various delivery methods ... all coordinated and scheduled in a transparent manner.  Throughout design and construction, project leaders were empowered to make decisions and encouraged to keep lines of communication open, which helped ensure the various scopes of work remained in sync and on schedule.

The COAA Way Award

The new Nemours Children’s Health System facility in Milford, Delaware is the culmination of a strategic plan to deliver world-class healthcare to patients and families closer to home.   Located on the Bayhealth Hospital Sussex Campus (approximately 1.5 hours from Nemours Children’s Hospital in Wilmington), the new 36,000 square foot clinic co-locates existing primary and senior care practices and provides space for new pediatric specialties.  

To improve the project delivery process, Nemours implemented a process called Integrated Facilities Design, or IFD.  The organization held a series of three week-long intensive design workshops, investing in leasing a space large enough to accommodate the workshop and hiring a consultant to walk participants through the exercises.  During the workshops, participants developed the conceptual design during the first week, then the Nemours team came back together with architect Francis Cauffman for a week to develop the Schematic Design. Two key results were 1) a reduction of the square footage requirements of Nemours’ typical spaces seeing if it could be done with less space, and 2) tremendous user buy-in, with participants feeling connected to what the result would be.  This culminated in a smooth delivery of the facility, allowing staff to plan for the new spaces.  It reduced the number of change orders associated with design changes and the amount of time required for the design phase.

About The Project Leadership Award

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

The Project Leadership Award is open to public and private Owners and both members and non-members. The program considers all types of construction projects, from any market, new construction, and renovation projects, large or small. Project size and cost are not contributing or deciding factors.