AMERICAN COUNCIL OF ENGINEERING COMPANIES (ACEC)
A panel of 29 judges, representing a wide spectrum of built environment disciplines, selected 24 projects for top awards—16 Honor Awards, eight Grand Awards and the Grand Conceptor Award, for the year’s most outstanding engineering achievement.
2016 Grand Conceptor Award Winner
Air Traffic Control Tower & Integrated Facility
San Francisco, CA
Walter P Moore, San Francisco, CA
The new air traffic control tower for the nation’s seventh busiest airport features pioneering seismic engineering that provides both toppling resistance and a self-centering capability during an earthquake. The previous tower was temporarily knocked out of commission in 1989 during the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake, compromising air safety. With the San Francisco airport situated just four miles from the San Andreas Fault, the new 231-foot-tall tower features a reinforced concrete core cylinder with vertical post-tensioning that can withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. When seismic forces cause the core to bend, the post-tensioning responds by applying a clamping force to restore the tower to its initial position. The tower design also uses a tuned mass damping system to limit sway of the slender tower during the high winds common in the region.
Biosolids Management Program
CDM Smith, Fairfax, VA
Trailblazing upgrades to a wastewater treatment plant now allow recovery of both energy and nutrients from wastewater, while at the same time reducing operating costs. Enhancements to the District of Columbia’s advanced water treatment plant, which serves more than 2 million residents, included installation of four 3.8-mgal anaerobic digesters and the world’s largest Cambi thermal hydrolysis process (THP) system, which produces Class A biosolids for reuse as well as biogas for plant operation heat and power. The new system has already reduced truck disposal of biosolids by half, while generating approximately 10 megawatts of electricity—sufficient to meet onethird of the facility’s demand.
WaterHub at Emory
McKim & Creed, Raleigh, NC
A beautiful greenhouse surrounded by artful landscaping in a university setting doubles as a revolutionary water reclamation and reuse facility. To mitigate numerous university water supply challenges, the project team customized an ecological water and reuse system that is the first of its kind in North America. The system comprises an “upper site” containing a 3,000-square-foot low-energy/high-efficiency glasshouse with an odorless hydroponic treatment system, and a “lower site” containing seven concrete processing tanks up to 25 feet underground topped by ornamental landscaping. The system treats up to 400,000 gallons daily, recycling the equivalent of two-thirds of the university’s wastewater production for campus heating and cooling, and significantly reducing the campus water usage. Over the past year, the university has saved 30 million gallons of potable water and is expected to save millions of dollars in water utility costs over a 20-year period.
Manhattan Bridge Rehabilitation of Cables and Suspenders
New York, NY
Weidlinger Associates, Inc., New York, NY
Innovative engineering produced a more reliable and efficient method to rehabilitate old and corroded cables and suspender ropes on suspension bridges. Tasked with replacing the Manhattan Bridge’s 1,256 suspender ropes—many 65 to 80 years old with substantial deterioration—the project team used advanced vibrational testing to determine rope tension. They then cleaned and rewrapped main cables with an elastomeric membrane to resist water, chemicals, temperature extremes and ultraviolet light. The rehabilitation was performed without any noticeable impact on traffic, which averages more than 500,000 commuters a day. The new process is expected to become a standard tool for suspension bridge cable maintenance throughout the nation.
No. 7 Line Subway Extension
New York, NY
WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York, NY
Resourceful engineering delivered a new subway extension and state-of-the-art station into the congested landscape of Midtown Manhattan’s Far West Side. The $2.4 billion, 1.5-mile extension of New York City Transit’s No. 7 Line from Times Square was designed to support the rapidly developing Hudson Yards area. The project team used innovative ground freezing technology to improve tunnel boring through mixed-wet soil and loose rocks. The project includes the strikingly modern 34th Street-Hudson Yards Station, which maximizes natural ventilation and daylight, reduces reliance on non-renewable energy sources and contains a 36-foot-wide platform—the widest column-free platform in the New York City subway system. The subway extension serves as a model of how to develop ultramodern rail infrastructure within a tight urban setting.
Creative engineering transformed a century-old artifact of Chicago’s industrial heritage into the nation’s longest elevated park. The project team repurposed unused 20th century rail infrastructure for 21st century needs to create six ground-level parks connected by a 2.7-mile-long elevated multi-use path. The project features innovative geometric path design and rehabilitation of thirty-eight bridges. It also included six miles of new retaining walls, six new access ramps, and drainage and hydrology for the new trail and park system. With multiple access points, elevation above city traffic and a park environment, The 606—named for the first three digits shared by all Chicago ZIP codes—enhances the social and economic vitality of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Harnessing Geothermal Power for Airports
McFarland-Johnson, Binghamton, NY
A unique collaboration with Binghamton University students produced a first-of-its-kind geothermal snow-melt system for airport aprons. Airports have long sought a more efficient method of snow and ice removal—salt can’t be used because it’s too corrosive to aluminum aircraft, and sand can damage aircraft engines. The solution was an innovative system of geothermal pumps and underground tubing that produces radiant heat, while reducing labor and operating costs and providing abundant snow-melting capability. The project team had to find the optimal balance between geothermal heating efficiency and the thickness of the apron’s concrete slab and its ability to withstand aircraft weight. The project reduces snow removal time, lessens travel disruptions and improves passenger safety.
Inventive engineering achieved a successful renovation of the 90-year-old Gilboa Dam, located in the Catskill Mountains and providing about 14 percent of the water supply for more than 9 million residents in New York City and upstate communities. The rehabilitation used cutting-edge rock anchor technology to redesign the dam’s spillway. A creative snowpack offset system to capture snowmelt—a frequent cause of regional flooding—was incorporated to protect more than 8,000 downstream residents. Delivering 1.2 billion gallons of water per day, the dam is part of the largest gravity-fed, unfiltered water supply system in the world.
About the American Council of Engineering Companies
The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) is the voice of America’s engineering industry. Council members – numbering more than 5,000 firms representing more than 500,000 employees throughout the country – are engaged in a wide range of engineering works that propel the nation’s economy, and enhance and safeguard America’s quality of life. These works allow Americans to drink clean water, enjoy a healthy life, take advantage of new technologies, and travel safely and efficiently. The Council’s mission is to contribute to America’s prosperity and welfare by advancing the business interests of member firms.