2008 Engineering Excellence Awards

Staff | September 28, 2010

Parsons/HNTB Corp. won the top honor — the Platinum Award — in the American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington's 2008 Engineering Excellence competition for their structural engineering design of the new Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge.

ACEC/Washington's 40th annual awards ceremony, held on Jan. 18, honored 29 projects that featured cutting-edge engineering expertise in structural, technological, environmental, and transportation projects.

Parsons/HNTB Corp. served as structural engineer for the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

National Finalists

The top five national-level awards (one platinum and four gold) went on to compete in the ACEC national competition in Washington, D.C., in March.

Platinum Award

The Washington State Department of Transportation's new Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge opened to traffic this past July. Parsons/HNTB served as the designer on the bridge's design-build team and the engineer-of-record for the approach roadways, ramps, overpass bridge, ancillary structures, plus seismic and roadway upgrades to the existing 57-year-old suspension bridge.

The new bridge is designed to withstand significantly high winds, strong tides, earthquakes, and growing traffic. A key element of the award-winning design is the bridge's foundation, which incorporates two massive underwater concrete caissons — each about the size of a 20-story building (see PB&E Sept. 1, 2003).

The unique 5,400-foot integral steel orthotropic deck is lightweight and exclusive of joints, which enhances the bridge's performance and simplifies future maintenance needs. The design provides for a second deck for future light rail or additional highway lanes.

Gold Awards

The award for Building/Technology Systems went to Sparling Inc. for the Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton, Colo. The owners and designers wanted to build a hospital with state-of-the-art efficiency and flexibility. To help achieve this goal, Sparling designed a unified information and communication platform that would provide a fully converged wired and wireless network for the $138-million hospital campus.

The award for Environmental went to Magnusson Klemencic Associates for the Olympic Sculpture Park, owned by the Seattle Art Museum. This shining example of urban restoration transformed this neglected brownfields site into an 8.5-acre showcase of natural and man-made beauty. The 2,200-foot, continuously sloping Z-shaped path design, depicting "mountains to sea," was simple and elegant, but bringing the design to life meant overcoming challenges such as the site's contaminated soils from 60 years as an oil storage terminal; a 40-foot elevation change; three separate parcels of land bisected by active rail and street rights-of-way; a decaying seawall at water's edge; stringent Washington state laws regarding waterfront work complicated by listed endangered species; location in one of the world's most active seismic zones; and a gauntlet of regulatory agencies requiring 60 separate permits.

The award for Waste & Wastewater went to Wood Harbinger Inc. for the Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment Facility for a Metal Plating Facility at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Wash.

The new facility uses cutting-edge technologies to produce recyclable metals in lieu of metal-containing sludge, which was previously disposed of as hazardous waste. Plant operators can now treat many different types of wastewater concurrently in less time, and it is more cost-effective than the former treatment plant.

The award for Transportation went to Huitt-Zollars Inc. for Sound Transit's Link Light Rail Line Section C-700, the 8,000-foot first segment of the agency's initial 14-mile light rail line that will eventually connect Convention Place Station in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to SeaTac Airport. Huitt-Zollars Inc. served as prime consultant on the design and construction team, and was responsible for the track layout, including the aerial track structure, plus three roadway intersections to accommodate the track crossing. HZ also relocated an overhead 230-kilovolt transmission main, designed a bike path to run alongside the track, designed and constructed two light rail stations located at Royal Brougham Way and South Lander Street, and designed bus stops for both stations on each side of the E-3 bus way.

Silver Awards

Silver Awards were presented in the national category to HWA GeoSciences, Inc., Otak, Inc., Sparling, Huitt-Zollars, Inc.

Best in State Awards

The Gold Award for Original or Innovative Application of New or Existing Techniques went to Herrera Environmental Consultants for the Mashel River Habitat Restoration Plan; owner, South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group. Herrera designed a simple and straightforward solution that involved the construction of 13 engineered logjam structures that would reconnect the river to its floodplain and take advantage of mature existing vegetation. The strategically placed manmade logjams obstructed the river flow and raised water elevations enough to inundate secondary channels and portions of the floodplain. This was critical in maintaining salmon populations as well as floodplain function and biodiversity.

The project was successfully constructed in two phases during the summers of 2006 and 2007, and cost less than $500,000 — half of what other solutions were expected to cost.

The Gold Award for Future Value to the Engineering Profession and Perception of the Public went to Golder Associates for the Escala High Rise Tower; client, The Lexas Companies LLC; owner, 4th & Virginia LLC. Building the 31-story condominium tower with a nine-story underground garage on the corner of 4th and Virginia in downtown Seattle required excavating up to 94 feet below the ground surface, the second-deepest excavation in downtown Seattle history. Golder Associates provided geotechnical exploration, shoring design and construction observation for the excavation. In order to monitor the load of the adjacent building on the deep excavation, Golder developed a new and ingenious instrumentation system that produced real-time information and was connected via a telephone modem to allow Golder's engineers to check the data from any location at any time.

The Gold Award for Social, Economic and Sustainable Design Considerations went to David Evans and Associates Inc. for the Lincoln Creek Restoration Project at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. David Evans and Associates worked closely with WWU to design a project that would provide the necessary stream and wetland mitigation, incorporate student participation, and exemplify elements of sustainable design. A major sustainable design element was a pedestrian bridge made from an 89-foot recycled rail car that spans the floodplain and connects the community to the facility.

The Gold Award for Complexity went to HNTB Corp. for the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Third Dependent Runway project; owner, Port of Seattle. HNTB, working with the Port of Seattle since 1993, has served as the primary engineering consultant involved in planning, preliminary engineering, permit support, design, program management, construction document preparation, and construction services for the new Third Dependent Runway at SeaTac Airport. The new runway will be 8,500 feet long, 150 feet wide and 17 inches thick. The $1.1-billion project is scheduled to open to the public in November 2008 — within budget and on schedule.

The Gold Award for Meeting/Exceeding the Owner's/Client's Needs went to Berger/ABAM Engineers Inc. for the Colonel Joe M. Jackson Bridge; owner, City of Kent, Wash. Located where South 228th Street crosses the Green River, the bridge is part of a roadway corridor extension that will one day connect Interstate 5 with new developments in and above the Kent Valley. Berger/ABAM Engineers resolved the myriad construction issues by selecting an enormous lift crane, positioned outside the 100-year floodway, that speeded construction to meet scheduling constraints. The single lift crane hoisted its 150-ton load several hundred feet to the edge of the river, then reached out more than 165 feet to gently rest each pair of steel girders over the river. All eight girders were erected in a single day. Also, spans were erected independently on simple supports, with innovative "link slabs" that eliminated the need for expansion joints, minimizing the risk of damage in a seismic event in an area plagued by soft soils.

Silver & Bronze Awards

A total of 11 Silver Awards and eight Bronze Awards also were presented in the Best in State division.

For Original or Innovative Application of New or Existing Techniques, Silver Awards went to GeoEngineers Inc. and Tetra Tech Infrastructure Group; Bronze Awards went to HWA GeoSciences Inc. and INCA Engineers Inc.

For Future Value to Engineering Profession & Perception of the Public, Silver Awards went to HWA GeoSciences Inc. and Shannon & Wilson Inc.; a Bronze Award went to J-U-B Engineers Inc.

For Social, Economic and Sustainable Design Considerations, Silver Awards went to Reid Middleton and Tetra Tech Infrastructure Group; a Bronze Award went to RH2 Engineering Inc.

For Complexity, Silver Awards went to INCA Engineers, Inc. and Landau Associates Inc.; a Bronze Award went to Kennedy/Jenks Consultants.

For Meeting/Exceeding the Owner's/Client's Needs, Silver Awards went to HNTB Corp., MWH Americas, Inc. and Roth Hill Engineering Partners LLC; Bronze Awards went to Earth Tech Inc., Kleinfelder, Inc. and W & H Pacific.

Entries were evaluated by a panel of judges including: Greg Thomopulos, Stanley Consultants; John Lynche, Washington State Office of General Administration; Ken Guy, King County Office of Executive Services; Dr. David McLean, dean of engineering at Washington State University; and Shawna Gamache, architectural and engineering editor of the Daily Journal of Commerce.

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington is a professional trade association representing consulting engineering, land surveying and affiliated scientific and planning firms statewide.