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Associated Builders and Contractors pick its best for 2006

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The San Diego chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors recently awarded its Excellence in Construction Awards to 19 local, nonresidential projects representing the best construction completed in 2006.

"All are classic examples of the quality work performed by merit shop contractors in San Diego and Imperial Counties," according to a San Diego ABC press release. "It's the cream of the cream," added George Hawkins, president of San Diego ABC.

Project types in this year's collection of work include commercial, industrial, institutional and military facilities. Five contractors received Awards of Excellence, the chapter's highest award, on projects in which they were involved.

Reno Contracting Inc. gained recognition for its $40 million construction of the second phase of the Gateway Chula Vista project. This phase of the project totaled 132,000 square feet, including restaurants, offices, two multi-floor lobbies and first-class amenities. The first two phases combined are expected to employ nearly 900 workers and generate approximately $662,000 in tax revenue a year for Chula Vista.

The Gateway Chula Vista project, valued at $80 million, includes a six-story office building and parking structure. Construction of the third and final phase of the project is under way.

Reno also received an award of excellence in 2005 for its work on the Ridge Park Office Center.

Straub Construction Inc. was given an excellence award for the University of California San Diego's Original Student Center Expansion, Phase 1 -- a contract valued at $5.3 million (Photo Page 1B).

The first phase involved the addition of 13,593 square feet to the existing 20,012-square-foot center. According to the company, construction elements included structural steel on concrete footings and grade beams; exposed structural steel framing; masonry walls; wood framing; aluminum-framed storefront and curtain wall; elevated walkways; a three-stop elevator; redwood slat siding; trellis; and other design features.

Since the project occurred on campus, Straub was challenged to coexist with the school's 30,000 students and faculty. With no direct access roads to the site, equipment and material deliveries required the use of pedestrian ramps, which were still in use by the UCSD community. Deliveries had to be precisely scheduled to avoid the frequent class-change times when student pedestrian traffic in the area was heavy, the company said in a statement.

Other challenges included: ensuring crane lifts could set structural steel in tight areas; experiencing historically high amount of rain during construction in both 2004 and 2005; lacking the ability to store dirt on site during excavation.

Straub had previously received an excellence award in 2004 for its Vandenberg AFB Missile Transport Bridge project.

Western Summit Constructors was acknowledged for rehabilitating and upgrading the existing Leucadia Pump Station for the Leucadia Wastewater District, a contract valued at more than $3.7 million.

The scope of the project included construction of an emergency overflow basin, which gave the agency storage capacity in the event of a failure, as it had no storage capacity before the project, according to the company.

Other installations included a new high-tech computer system, improved ventilation system and air-conditioning unit to cool the new computer system, new electrical gear, four new energy efficient pumps and an advanced odor control system. The existing wet well also was rehabilitated.

Project manager Harley Crace acknowledged the project was not without its challenges.

"Due to the required sequence of construction, about 50 percent of the work -- mostly consisting of heavy mechanical, had to be completed during the last one-third of the project's duration," he said.

Bergelectric Corp., an electrical contractor, and California Comfort Systems USA, a mechanical and plumbing contractor, both received awards of excellence for renovation work on the Chula Vista Nature Center, which is part of the Chula Vista Bayfront Plan. Renovation of the center was part of the first sub-area identified in the plan.

California Comfort also received an award for the work it provided for Neurocrine Biosciences (Nasdaq: NBIX) -- more than 300,000-square-foot office and laboratory campus on 9.4 acres in Del Mar Heights.

An additional 13 projects also received merit and honor awards. Merit awards went to: Bergelectric for Caltrans District II; Casper Co. for Sea World Shamu "Believe"; I.E.-Pacific Inc. for P-124 Ground Combat Training Range; Ledcor SD Construction for Solana Beach Corporate Center Pacific Building Group, Together We Grow; and Straub for Nellis AFB Design Build Visiting Quarters and Nellis AFB Design Build Vehicle Maintenance Complex.

Projects that received awards of honor included: California Comfort Systems for Museum of Contemporary Art; Davis & Adams Construction for San Diego County Employees' Retirement Association; Good & Roberts Inc. for Gen-Probe (Nasdaq: GPRO) consolidated Phase 2; Ledcor SD for San Diego State University Environmental Lab; and Reno Contracting for The Blackmore Co. Lot 66 and Paseo Del Mar/Campus at Carmel Valley.

Projects honored with excellence and merit awards are eligible to enter the National ABC Excellence in Construction Awards. Winners of the national competition will be recognized at the ABC National Convention in March 2007.

Winners of the San Diego ABC competition, including the project's contractors, owners, architects and other members of the building team, will be formally recognized at the ABC Awards of Excellence celebration on Feb. 8.

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