Carolinas AGC bestowed the 2016 Pinnacle Awards to four construction projects which enhance their communities, and the “Build with the Best” Pinnacle Award to an individual whose partnership with the construction industry helped pull a state out of mass turmoil. Pinnacle entries are judged on unique aspects and challenges; special values; project management; budget and schedule; and safety performance. Pinnacle winning projects enhance the Carolinas and advance the construction industry!

2016 Pinnacle Award Winners
CAGC 2016 Pinnacle Award Winners

Convention & Pinnacle Awards Ceremony

The CAGC Pinnacle Awards competition is co-sponsored by CPA firm GreerWalker LLP and the law firm of Johnston, Allison & Hord, both based in Charlotte. The Pinnacle presentation was made at CAGC's 94th Annual Convention in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

Johnston, Allison & Hord    Greer Walker CPA

Project Awards

Duke University Chapel Restoration - Romeo Guest Associates

Best Building Project - $5 Million and Over

Romeo Guest Associates

Duke University ChapelThe Chapel at Duke University is a unique sight standing tall among Durham, North Carolina’s skyline. This iconic structure is a landmark for the University and is recognized nationally and globally as the centerpiece for Duke. Not only does it serve as a church and sacred resting place of some of the most influential people associated with Duke University’s existence, it’s also one of the area’s most beautiful tourist attractions.

What started as an investigative research by Romeo Guest Associates at the request of Duke University to determine the cause of falling mortar joints in the limestone ribs of the Chapel’s vaulted ceiling, then evolved into a complete restoration. The goal of this project? To retain the overall appearance, elegance and majestic nature of the building while enhancing and updating the building’s structure, materials, systems and technology. Romeo Guest, realizing this was a once-in-a-lifetime project, instilled the attitude that “this job is personal” into all partners involved.

The work started off with Pinnacle Partner Associated Scaffolding Company devising an elaborate scaffolding plan to provide safe access to multiple areas both inside and outside of the building, including access to the 73-foot high ceiling, which enabled concurrent activities for various trade work. The scaffolding, which appeared to have consumed the entire space, was in fact a maze of metal and walk-boards which allowed exceptional levels of safe travel and work areas, including a work platform (also known as the “dance floor”) which provided a stable platform for ceiling work and a barrier of protection for those below. With over 487 tons of scaffolding, daily inspections were vital to ensure safety for over 200 workers using the scaffold to complete their scope of work.

The reroofing of this project alone was a major feat. Although several materials existed which could have been used to reroof the Chapel, based on the goal of retaining its appearance, the same lead-coated copper roofing used over 80 years ago was again the natural choice. Lead-coated copper roofing is neither inexpensive nor easy to install, especially at heights of over 100 feet and in areas exceeding 23,000 square feet. Pinnacle Partner Baker Roofing Company’s employees hoisted over 101,000 pounds of lead-coated copper to varying levels of the Chapel roof for installation. Each panel required customization to ensure a weathertight seal and match the original roof appearance.

The deteriorating mortar joints had initiated the restoration of the Duke Chapel. Falling mortar sparked an elaborate investigation of the limestone mortar joints across the entire ceiling of this gravity structure. The original material had become brittle, expanding and contracting to the point of release. Each of the 2000 joints had to be removed to full depth of the limestone, and then replaced with an advanced, more flexible mortar material. The grinding of the mortar created a very fine dust which had potential to affect air quality, as well as damage the working components of the three pipe organs adorning and servicing the Chapel. Protection of the 11,600 pipes and working components of the organs was of utmost importance to ensure beautiful music would resound through the Chapel once work was completed.

Much of the beauty of Duke Chapel’s interior resides in the ornate woodwork throughout the facility. The 80-year-old hand-carved English oak adornments had become brittle, dirty, and discolored. Though only a minimal amount was replaced, all the wood components—every nook and cranny—had to be hand-cleaned. Once cleaned, every inch was then hand-rubbed to ensure consistency in color, protection, and finish. Though time consuming, this attention to detail was the only way to restore the woodwork to its original splendor and radiance.

Regarding the mechanical upfit of this project, high volumes of air are required to manage the thermal comfort inside the Chapel—but space was limited for the new air handling units required to service the Chapel. Romeo Guest built full-size mock-ups of the air handling units to ensure their fit within the area provided and to clearly identify existing or proposed utility lines that required relocation.

Electrical system upgrades included re-lamping all chandeliers, installing a new 17,000-pound transformer, replacing the main distribution panel, and installing an elaborate A/V system. Detailed planning along with extensive field investigation lead to the installation of over 33 miles of conduit and cabling with little or no visibility to the public.

Because this project is both a tourist attraction and centrally located on a prestigious university, there were significant logistical challenges to keep workers, students, staff and visitors safe throughout the year-long project. The result of the crew’s efforts included over 150,000 man-hours worked with zero recordable incidents. Given the scope of work and an exceptionally aggressive schedule, the repairs to the Chapel at Duke University were safely completed on time and approximately 10% under budget.

North Carolina A&T State University Deese Clock Tower - W.C. Construction Company

Best Building Project Under $5 Million

W. C. Construction Company

North Carolina A & T State University Deese Clock TowerThis beautiful project, The North Carolinas A & T State University Deese Clock Tower, is named for benefactors Willie and Carol Deese. Mr. Deese is a former chair of A&T’s Board of Trustees and a graduate of the university’s School of Business and Economics. The tower, which blends traditional masonry using concrete, steel and glass with state-of-the art sound and LED lighting, is a monument to the Deeses’ gifts to the university.

W.C. Construction was awarded the $1.3 million-dollar contract in the summer of 2015. They were eager to get started on a project which would reflect historical greatness and combine detailed workmanship with a complex design, all while incorporating state of the art multi-faceted components.

This unique project’s foot print only takes up a 12 foot by 12 foot plot. However, the tower proudly stands 85 feet high, overlooking much of the college. It’s obvious to say that the Deese Clock Tower has become a monumental focal point to the community and the campus.

W.C. Construction started the job with a focus on saving the university money. It was through their use of value engineering that they could remove certain exterior finishes which would have added to the bottom line, yet would have been of little value to the overall project. The end result was a beautiful tower with several façade components which make up the building’s exterior finish, including cast in place concrete footings, a steel structural frame, glazed brick veneer, translucent glass, composite metal panels, and an LED clock mechanism.

Topping the tower is an amplified electronically simulated carillon system which provides rich sound quality that rivals even the best of church bells. The carillon housing also allows for wind to pass through, adding to the stability of the tower. And in true North Carolina A&T spirit, the tower’s lighting system illuminates in school colors of blue, gold, and white.

W.C. Construction Company was faced with several construction challenges while building this marvelous tower. Location was one of the biggest challenges, given the project constraints of being centered within the middle of campus with constant pedestrian traffic of students, faculty, and those just visiting the campus to watch the tower’s progress. The safety of this campus community was at the forefront of W. C. Construction’s every move.

This focus on safety was echoed by the mere fact that most work was done by crews stationed on equipment lifts or scaffolds -- keep in mind the clock tower’s height of 85 feet. The confinement of the jobsite location was another challenge. With a very rainy season at hand, rainwater had nowhere to drain. This resulted in having to dry out the site for several days each time it rained, in order to allow for the use of equipment lifts. However, even Mother Nature couldn’t rain on the tower’s parade: the project was completed in time for its dedication during the 125th Anniversary of NC A&T State University Founder’s Day celebration on March 24, 2016.

Given the scope of this project, there were zero issues with safety performance—no lost time and no safety violations. W.C. Construction attributes this to monitoring the project site daily as well as unannounced site visits throughout the duration of the project to measure safety precautions. And, with an original budget of $1.3 million dollars, the tower’s final budget came in under $1 million dollars.

University Chancellor Dr. Harold Martin praised the performance of the W.C. team for its dedication to the project and safety of the campus.

In the words of Willie Deese (which can be found engraved on the east side of the tower): “Look Back, Reach Back, Lift Up, and Always Lean Forward”.

The Fayetteville Outer Loop - Barnhill Contracting Company

Best Highway-Heavy Project - $5 Million and Over

Pinnacle Partners:

Sanford Contractors

Fayetteville Outer LoopInterstate 295, also known as the Fayetteville Outer Loop, is a vital bypass, and not just for the obvious reason of alleviating traffic congestion in the area. This bypass, spanning 6 and a half miles, offers tighter security for Fort Bragg military base -- home to the United States Airborne and Special Operations. Prior to opening I-295, Bragg Boulevard, a main artery though Fort Bragg, was heavily traveled by the public. Considering Fort Bragg is the largest military base in the world, this obviously caused concern regarding the security of the Base and those serving our country and their families. Upon completion of the Outer Loop in August of 2016, Bragg Boulevard was closed permanently to the public, which instantly elevated security to the base and those who work and live there. And, the public now has a new, more efficient way to travel through Fayetteville.

The Outer Loop includes 9 bridges, a pedestrian culvert, and connects Fort Bragg to Interstate-95, ensuring easier and more effective deployment of troops and military equipment from the base.

A unique aspect of this project was the use of the state’s first-ever load transfer platform, also known as LTP. The LTP system is a semi-rigid slab that effectively bridges and distributes loads to columns, allowing greater spacing of pile columns than with traditional concrete pile cap systems. The high load distribution structure is especially beneficial over soft soils. The fabric used on the LTP was manufactured in Germany and then imported, which required a 6-month lead time, meaning that it was vital that the amount of material needed was accurately calculated since error would greatly impact the schedule.

To stabilize the unsuitable material under the roadway, crews worked through a multi-phase process to construct the LTP, which included the installation of wick drains, placing fill, and a 5-foot surcharge to allow settlement for three months. The material where the LTP was to be located was then excavated 10 feet below the natural ground. Crews drove concrete piles with concrete caps 15 feet deep under the fill to support the load and prevent settlement.

Three layers of stone with alternating layers of high-strength fabric was then installed over the concrete piles. This process took 14-16 months and was performed concurrently with other construction activities on the site. Technology also came into play with the use of GPS-controlled milling machines which finely graded the subgrade and installed the 235,000-ton stone base. By using these machines, accuracy and smoothness of the grade was greatly improved, and the need for rework was reduced, saving perhaps 3-4% on construction time—and more importantly, the rideability of the asphalt was improved.

The Fayetteville Loop came with some unique obstacles and setbacks, to say the least.

  • The Historic Preservation Office discovered there was potential for archeological significance on the site, therefore Barnhill had to halt work to commission an archeological investigation on one of the large borrow pits. The investigation, which spanned five months, produced artifacts which dated back to 1200 – 400 BC. This significant find aided the state of North Carolina in collecting data to contribute to its understanding of past lifeways, and to the site’s registry on the National Registry of Historic Places.
  • Other obstacles were much more daunting – a man’s body was found on the jobsite, which halted work so that the body could be removed and a full investigation of the site performed. And then in a separate incident, when a soldier at Fort Bragg went missing near the jobsite, Barnhill had to work closely with the SBI, Fort Bragg and the Fayetteville Police to allow access to the site for an intensive search. Once again, operations at the site were halted while an investigation took place.
  • Lastly, work was yet again delayed due to a devastating tornado. Crews had to rework erosion control measures and repair major wind and extensive rain damage.

Throughout all the good, the bad and the ugly delays, Barnhill’s close oversight of the project from the very beginning allowed the team to work ahead of schedule whenever possible. Due to this proactive approach, the project’s aggressive schedule was maintained without significant impact, as was the job’s budget.

On August 12, 2016, Governor Pat McCrory and local officials proudly cut the ribbon for the Fayetteville Loop.

The FRP Bridge on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail - NHM Constructors

Best Highway-Heavy Project - Under $5 Million

Pinnacle Partners:

Arête Engineers

The FRP Bridge on the Mountains-to-Sea TrailThe bridge, located on the Mountain-to-Sea trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Blowing Rock, NC, is a seemingly small but mighty project – one which exemplifies the Pinnacle Award criteria because of its unique aspects, special value, construction challenges, safety performance, excellence in project management, budget and schedule considerations.

With a budget of $250,000 and a six-week schedule to complete this project, NHM was eager to get started. From the onset of this project, Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail (a group of citizens and volunteers who support the trail) collaborated with Arête Engineers and NHM Constructors on the bridge’s concept, the 6-week time frame, and other preliminary needs. Funding was obtained through two grants: one from the Federal Recreation Trails Program, administered by the NC Division of State Parks; and the other through the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Because the project was being funded by grants and managed by a non-profit organization, there was no wiggle room for cost increases.

Prior to the bridge, the only way for hikers to access the Mountains to Sea Trail was to wade through a creek. Worse yet, the Mountains-to-Sea trail was limited to physically healthy people – hikers who had physical disabilities found it hard, at times impossible, to cross. The installation of this bridge has already added great value to the community by allowing all hikers, no matter their physical limitations, to cross the creek safely. It also allows much easier access to one of only three backcountry campsites on the Parkway.

While the argument could be made that all bridge projects—whether over a bustling highway or a rushing river—come with challenges, this particular bridge’s very location was its greatest challenge. Any time you perform work in a forested area, the impact on the environment alone can make or break the project. Of the many steps NHM took to impact the trail as little as possible, two stood out to the Pinnacle judges:

  • The abutments for the bridge were chiseled into two boulders on opposite sides of the creek, taking advantage of mother earth in a very positive way,
  • And to minimize the number of trees that needed to be removed to allow for a landing area for materials being flown into the project site, NHM used an existing sand bar to eliminate the need for downed trees.

Given the job site’s access restrictions, a helicopter with a maximum weight limit of 1,500 pounds was used to deliver materials and equipment to the site. Flight days required coordination between NHM, Arête, Friends of the Mountains to Sea and the Forest Service to arrange for trail closures, parking area closures and traffic control on the Parkway and in the backcountry.

A total of 25 loads were flown in, which consisted of concrete mix, tools, mixers, scaffolding, and bridge materials. Each load had to be weighed and staged according to the order needed during construction, especially since space on the laydown area was limited. The helicopter made 14 additional flights upon completion of the project, to haul out tools and scaffolding. Semi-trucks and ATVs were also used to deliver materials. However, these vehicles came with their own set of issues given they could only be driven part of the way. Crew members then had to hike down a steep slope to reach the project site. These challenges made planning especially important on the front end because anything that was not flown in via helicopter had to be hand carried about a mile to the site.

Due to the unique methods used to deliver materials, traditional steel could not be used on this project due to the weight. Therefore, to lighten the load (literally), the use of fiber reinforced polymer (also known as FRP) material was used. In addition to easing the delivery burden associated with this project, FRP reduced the weight of the overall structure to roughly 11,500 pounds-- which is significantly less than the 20,000 pounds of a traditional steel structure.

It’s important here to note that while the construction of this project took only 6 weeks, planning and preparation began back in 2014 – it was this long span of planning and preparing that helped meet its challenges head on.

While safety is always a major concern and topic of conversation for NHM Constructors, this project came with a unique safety challenge not typical of most job sites. Because of the site’s location, cell phone service was sometimes non-existent, or sketchy at best. And, it would have taken emergency crews additional time to get to the project had they been needed. For these reasons, NHM gave its crew a refresher course in first aid and CPR. Because of risks associated with using aircraft and lowering and lifting loads out of a forested area, safety briefings were held before each flight. These briefings covered topics such as “what to do if the wind blows objects from the aircraft” and “what to do if tree limbs are knocked down by incoming/outgoing loads.” Thanks in part to the training and awareness of NHM’s supervision and crew members, the bridge project experienced no accidents or near misses.

NHM Constructors completed the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Bridge within the 6-week construction schedule, and $10,000 under budget! A small but mighty project.

Individual Pinnacle Award

Christy Hall, SCDOT Transportation Secretary

Build with the Best Award

(The Build with the Best award honors someone who is not a contractor but has contributed to the betterment of the construction industry and the overall economic welfare of the Carolinas.)

As if being approved as the Director of South Carolina DOT by the General Assembly for the past four years AND passing the largest bond bill for road work in the state during the past legislative session wasn’t honorable enough, Secretary Hall also led South Carolina through the worst flooding the state has ever seen.

In October 2015, more than a trillion gallons of water dumped on the state within a 48-hour period, washing out roads and bridges throughout the beautiful Palmetto state. During the peak of the storm on October 5th, 541 roads and bridges were closed statewide. Just one month later, on November 9th, the number of closed roads and bridges had decreased from 541 to only 80 -- an 85 percent decrease in just over four weeks.

These next statistics tell the rest of the story:

  • Under Christy’s watch, SCDOT Maintenance led the majority of flood repairs, including initiating 3 bridge replacement projects with in-house forces.
  • SCDOT engaged 23 highway and bridge contractors to assist with 65 different ‘emergency/spot repairs’ in 16 counties throughout the state. Contractors were also engaged on 10 bridge replacement or major bridge/culvert repair projects within 4 counties.
  • Collection of 1,441 loads of debris was managed by SCDOT through a close partnership with many CAGC contractor members.
  • And, those 80 remaining road closures I spoke of a minute ago – they were re-opened to handle the Thanksgiving travel just a few weeks later.

Christy and her team at SCDOT did a yeoman’s job in getting the roads and bridges back on-line, keeping their website (which received over 3 million hits!) current with daily updates, assessing the roads to determine the financial needs facing the state, and working with their federal partners as well as their stakeholders in the construction industry to move the state forward—all while making sure they were addressing latent defects which could arise in the future, and continuing to prepare and let jobs that were already in the pipeline. Which translates to keeping Carolinas AGC members working hard!

The pre-planning, coordination and leadership that Christy and her team put in place allowed them to effectively manage this major catastrophe—and for that we're pleased to award South Carolina’s Christy Hall and her team at SC DOT with the 2016 Carolinas AGC Build with the Best Award.