Carolinas AGC bestowed the 2020-2021 Pinnacle Awards to twelve construction projects which enhance their communities, and three “Build with the Best” Pinnacle Awards to individuals who worked together on education outreach efforts for the construction industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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! 

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 Award ceremony was held at CAGC's 101st Annual Convention in Charleston, SC in January. 

Johnston Allison Hord Attorneys    Greer Walker CPA

Build with the Best Pinnacle Award

Fiorella Horna, Bill Whitley, Lissette Velez

In 2020, the CAGC Foundation received a grant of $3.75 million from the North Carolina General Assembly for construction pandemic mitigation and education outreach.  The sum of $3.0 million was used to make subgrants to businesses, non-profits and other eligible groups for mitigation efforts related to health and safety measures in workplaces and jobsites. The additional $750,000 was used to make subgrants to media organizations, businesses and non-profits for multilingual education, training and community outreach to construction workers, including those who lack proficiency in the English language.   

Three of the organizations that received grant funding for education and outreach did an outstanding job of working together to coordinate a media and outreach campaign that resulted in CAGC receiving the AGC of America Public Relations Chapter Award.  These three organizations – Curtis Media Group, El Centro Hispano, and the Hispanic Contractors Association of the Carolinas – met frequently to craft multi-lingual COVID health and safety messages. By partnering rather than competing, the individuals representing these organizations prevented duplication of effort, conflicting messaging, and most importantly maximized the amount of funding that allowed the campaign to expand its reach. These three individuals also sought the input of CAGC staff and members for guidance and direction, and included two of our CAGC board members for several of the radio advertisements. 

Because of their important and impactful work on behalf of the construction industry, Carolinas AGC is presenting 3 Build with the Best Awards to:

Fiorella Horna with El Centro Hispano
Bill Whitley with Curtis Media Group
Lissette Velez with the Hispanic Contractors Association of the Carolinas

Fiorella Horna, El Centro Hispano
Fiorella Horna, El Centro Hispano

Bill Whitley, Curtis Media Group
Bill Whitley, Curtis Media Group

Lissette Velez, Hispanic Contractors Association of the Carolinas
Lissette Velez, Hispanic Contractors Association of the Carolinas

Best Building Projects

Belltower at North Carolina State University: Raleigh, NC - New Atlantic Contracting. Inc.

NC State Belltower

Belltower at North Carolina State University 

The Memorial Belltower at North Carolina State University is a monument that honors alumni who lost their lives in World War I. Due to ongoing budgetary constraints, several components were never installed—including the bells! Decades of water intrusion had damaged the Shrine Room and the memorial plaque.

The Belltower renovation included the addition of 55 bells, made by Virginia-based Sunderlin, constructed of traditional loam material comprised of clay, sand, horsehair, and dung. 

Drone footage was used to evaluate the 115-foot-tall tower to determine the cleaning and restoring needs. With no existing means of vertical access, the team erected scaffolding systems throughout the hollow interior shaft and the exterior. Wall anchors were installed for the galvanized stair system using the same scaffold, and the remainder of the galvanized stair was erected from the bottom to the top after removing the scaffold. Once complete, workers had safe vertical access to install all other project components, including HVAC, electrical, the wooden instrument, bells, and associated carillon mechanisms.

The installation of the bell frame and the first 18 bells was the project's most complex and challenging event, with a crane hoisting the frame and bells (weighing 19,779 pounds!) as spectators watched and celebrated from nearby lawns. The Belltower includes new copper roofing, cast-iron windows and granite steps, and restored granite block and repointed mortar joints. Controlled LED lighting within bronze torchieres now illuminate the tower's exterior.

Most important to the project was the disassemble and reconstruction of the Shrine Room. Due to water intrusion, the marble was restored carefully, with some pieces requiring replacement with matching Bottocino and Serpentine marble. The memorial plaque received an epoxy injection with hand-gilded gold-leaf lettering. Every material and process were thoughtfully and intentionally completed so that the sacrifices of those who died for our freedoms could continue to be honored.

Congratulations to the New Atlantic team.

Riverfront Park: Wilmington, NC - Clancy & Theys Construction Company

Clancy & Theys

Riverfront Park

Riverfront ParkTransforming a derelict storage depot into a 6.6-acre downtown park, Wilmington continues to prove why it’s home to “America’s Best Riverfront,” an award the city earned in 2015.

Riverfront Park is a combination of coastal rehabilitation, event venue, and public park which includes: a children’s play equipment and synthetic surfacing, a splash plaza, two gardens, food and beverage facilities, and the Live Oak Bank Pavilion – a 7,200-capacity amphitheater for live music and entertainment.

The amphitheater alone was a multifaceted undertaking, with the core stage built with a fiber-optic video system, two 60-foot followspot towers for stage lighting, a public access road, a promenade leading to the Box Office and Admin Building, a variety of granite-veneered seat walls, and stone, concrete and granite pathways.

Creating this “fun” project came with challenges, starting with overlapping bodies with jurisdiction, including the Army Corps of Engineers, the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, and standard civic authorities. The team also worked with Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and Duke Progress Energy to upgrade and expand the infrastructure for development of a new neighborhood surrounding the park.

Other challenges included grading and capping contaminated soil; installing stable native plantings and a marine mattress for the grass; and weatherproofing the site against salty, stormy air. Meanwhile, Hurricane Florence brought unprecedented downpours which meant extensive underground stabilization and utility connections took place in the wettest, muddiest possible conditions. Through a skillful reshuffling of plans, personnel and timelines, the project was completed within schedule, and with zero lost days of work.

Congratulations to Clancy & Theys!

Common Desk Wilmington: Wilmington, NC - Monteith Construction


Pinnacle Partners

  • Woods Engineering

Common Desk

Common Desk Wilmington

Monteith was hired by East West Partners to restore the historic “Gaylord Building” in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina - a structure originally built in 1908 as a department store and now houses Common Desk Wilmington, a flexible coworking community. This project strikes a balance between honoring the building’s history and celebrating the vibrant and entrepreneurial spirit of Wilmington today. At project start, the abandoned building condition was so structurally unsound that no one could safely go above the ground floor. As a result of this “unknown” status, a two-phased approach to pricing and planning was used to best control the project budget, schedule, and scope: first by tackling the shell, then, the interior upfit.

Monteith took painstaking effort to salvage original cast iron columns, floor joists, and brick to re-use throughout the building. The team also took old-growth wood that couldn’t be re-purposed for this specific project and donated it to Historic Wilmington Foundation’s Legacy Architectural Salvage instead of simply discarding it.

Monteith’s dedication to community service regarding the Common Desk Project was amazing – they actually commissioned a 501(c)(3) non-profit called Kids Making It – a youth woodworking program that not only taught at-risk, low income and disadvantaged youth how to refinish the floor joists inside the Common Desk Wilmington project, but also taught them vocational, entrepreneurial and life skills as well.

Woods Engineering has been named as a Pinnacle Partner on this project.  Congratulations to the Monteith team!

The Greg Poole, Jr. All Faiths Chapel: Raleigh, NC - Barnhill Contracting Company

Barnhill Contracting Company

Pinnacle Partners

  • Watco Corporation
The Greg Poole, Jr. All Faiths Chapel

The Greg Poole, Jr. All Faiths Chapel

This project is long in history and in matters of the heart. Prior to renovation and renaming, The Greg Poole, Jr. All Faiths Chapel was originally the site of the Dorothea Dix mental hospital. To pay homage to the site’s history, the chapel's mid-century architecture was maintained throughout this renovation, including decorative wood elements, a rose stained-glass window, terrazzo floors, and mid-century stainless fixtures. The team was also able to preserve the original lounge railings, sawtooth walls, terrazzo, and millwork paneling.

The Chapel is named in honor of Greg Poole Jr., the founder of the Dix Park Conservancy, who has close personal ties to Barnhill Contracting’s Board Chair Bob Barnhill. Bob was a dear friend of Mr. Poole, doing business with Gregory Poole Equipment Company for many years and developing a close relationship with him and his family. The Barnhill Family Foundation also made a generous gift to the Conservancy, helping to cover the cost of construction in honor of his friend.

In the Chapel’s foyer is artwork reflecting special remembrance of those who lived and worked on the Dix grounds, including images of the enslaved, nurses and doctors, and those who were treated for mental health issues. One very touching image is of the project’s construction workers who brought this project to life—including Gil Trejo, who battled liver disease and unfortunately passed away on May 21, 2021, at age 52. Gil’s family attended the Chapel’s ribbon cutting days later and was overwhelmed at the site of Gil being memorialized forever.

The Greg Poole, Jr. All Faiths Chapel, which was performed with 38% HUB participation, and had an accident-free safety record, stands proudly to serve generations of Raleigh residents while honoring the building’s past and shaping its future.

Watco Corporation is named as a Pinnacle Partner in this award. Congratulations to the Barnhill team!

Best Highway Projects

US 421 / I-40 Business Reconstruction: Winston-Salem, NC - Flatiron, Blythe Development


US 421 / I-40 Business Reconstruction

US 421 / I-40 Business Reconstruction

The US 421 / I-40 Business Reconstruction design-build project, a joint venture of Flatiron Constructors, Inc.-Blythe Development Company along with lead engineering firm HDR, was allowed twenty-four months of shutdown for reconstruction.

During the shutdown, crews substantially completed all major roadway elements, completed nine of the 11 bridges in the corridor; set 20,000 linear feet of storm drainage, and installed 180,000 square feet of retaining walls. In addition to the shutdown, a key project element was the unique dual-tied arch Green Street pedestrian bridge. The design of this bridge required a staged construction approach that implemented temporary shoring. Because of the complexity of the engineering details, the team modified its shoring concept to allow for the bridge to be partially under-construction while traffic flowed beneath it.

While traffic safety was the largest influencer, Business 40 serves as the gateway to historic downtown Winston-Salem therefore aesthetic features were also important. Features included brick facing on the retaining walls, stepping of the retaining wall heights, arch details on highway bridges, landscaping along pedestrian facilities and two new signature pedestrian bridges with decorative lighting and aesthetic elements.

This project came with some unique challenges, such as existing utilities—some decades old—required extensive relocation efforts throughout the corridor for power, telecommunication, gas, water and sanitary sewer. Working through historic districts without impacting right-of-way required development of unique retaining walls that reduced impact and looked aesthetically pleasing. Needless to say, this also included the complexity of addressing the needs of all stakeholders — including the City of Winston-Salem, NCDOT’s Division 9, utility owners and local businesses.

Given the scope of this project, the challenges, and extensive partnerships, the team accelerated construction and reopened Business 40 in only fourteen months—ten months ahead of schedule!

Congrats to the FlatIron-Blythe Development team!

SCDOT SC 9 over Broad River, Lockhart Canal, Lockhart Drive and Canal Road: Lockhart, SC - Crowder


SCDOT SC 9 over Broad River, Lockhart Canal, Lockhart Drive and Canal Road

SCDOT SC 9 over Broad River, Lockhart Canal, Lockhart Drive and Canal Road

This complex project, requiring multi-agency coordination and multiple types of permits, includes four bridges, approaches, half a mile of roadway, mass concrete, rock wall removal, stamped and stained concrete MSE walls, drainage and utility construction and bridge demolition.  The Lockhart Drive bridge was staged construction, while the other three were built offline. Timing played a huge role in this project given that daily traffic had to be shifted among bridges to not interfere with the community’s well-being.

History played a large part in this project, specifically with the Lockhart Canal bridge which was designed to have similar appearance to the historic footbridge downstream that was used by millworkers to get to a textile plant located between Lockhart Canal and the Broad River. The smokestack seen in pictures was part of the mill.

Obviously, construction challenges on a project of this magnitude were many and required that engineers be onsite much of the time. Great care was required working near the canal banks because they are very old and sensitive to excess vibrations, so monitoring was vital to project success.

One of the biggest challenges was the need for causeways during construction. The bottom of the Broad River was very rocky, and the original permit did not allow for a causeway. Soon after Crowder first obtained a Nationwide 33 permit which allowed for a 180-day impact to the Broad River, they quickly had to shift gears after encountering substantially more rock than originally estimated—therefore, extending the drilling time. Due to Crowder quickly identifying the need for change, they were able to obtain a permit that allowed for a longer use of the causeways.  

Given this project was constructed over a three-year period and 122,946 manhours with numerous site challenges, in true Crowder fashion it completed safely, within contract time and within budget.

Congratulations to the Crowder team!

US17 Maysville Bypass: Maysville, NC - Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Branch Civil

Balfour Beatty    Branch Civil

Pinnacle Partners

  • Barnhill Contracting
  • Martin Marietta
  • Coastal Precast

US17 Maysville Bypass

US17 Maysville Bypass

The US17 Maysville Bypass, a Joint Venture of Balfour Beatty Infrastructure and Branch Civil, included sixteen miles of highway-- twelve miles on new alignment and four miles widening an existing two-lane highway to a four-lane divided highway. Twenty-six new bridge structures were built, including five dual sets over crossroads, four dual sets over wetlands and one dual set to accommodate a wildlife crossing. There were also four crossroad bridges over the new alignment and one single-lane ramp bridge. The last structure involved widening an existing US17 northbound bridge.

Challenges were abundant in a project this big, one which included nearly 5 million cubic yards of earth moving, mostly from offsite sources. The largest borrow source was separated from the project right-of-way by privately owned property, but the team was able to secure an agreement with the property owner that allowed borrow to be moved directly to the project, thereby eliminating 107,000 truckloads that otherwise would have had to travel local roadways. Rerouting traffic was also a challenge, such as school busses rerouted down a flood-prone dirt road—resulting in the team building safer and more efficient detours without impacting the original schedule or the environment. And then Hurricane Florence struck, leaving portions of the project under fifteen feet of water for several weeks.

The joint venture was passionate about partnering with the local community due to the bypass project having such a drastic impact on the towns of Maysville and Pollocksville. The team sponsored the local Volunteer Fire Departments’ annual fundraising, and prioritized repairs to a major roadway damaged during Hurricane Florence.

Despite the many challenges, the $143 million-dollar US17 Maysville Bypass was delivered under budget and seven months ahead of schedule.

Barnhill Contracting, Martin Marietta, and Coastal Precast were named as Pinnacle Partners on this project. Congratulations to the Joint Venture of Balfour Beatty Infrastructure and Branch Civil.

I-77 Over Catawba River Emergency Bridge Replacement: Rock Hill, SC - United Infrastructure Group

United Infrastructure Group Logo

Pinnacle Partners

  • United Demolition
  • Sunbelt Rentals
  • Curtin Company

I-77 Over Catawba River Emergency Bridge Replacement 

I-77 Over Catawba River Emergency Bridge Replacement

The I-77 South Bound bridge over the Catawba River is located between Fort Mill and Rock Hill, SC, and serves as the primary route from Charlotte. Because of the importance of the route, SCDOT limited the shutdown of the bridge for deck replacement to merely 17 days.

Crews worked odd hours almost every night and weekend to ensure a timely start on critical path activities when the Southbound bridge shut down began. Over 20 crews of UIG and United Demolition employees, and more than 30 subcontractors and suppliers spent the next 2 weeks working 12 hour shifts to remove, replace, and reconfigure traffic back to the Southbound bridge.

So many crews at one project in such a small area presented many logistical challenges which were overcome by the team’s detailed planning.  Parking, material and tool storage, meals, breaks, restrooms, sleeping arrangements, and many other factors were planned and executed meticulously to keep the work progressing without distraction. A hospitality team provided 3 hot catered meals per day for each crew, laundry service, Chaplains to boost spirits, snacks, wellness checks, bus service to the project, and anything else the employees needed, resulting in a camaraderie rarely experienced on projects and a team mentality to do whatever it took to achieve the goal.

This amazing team demolished and recycled millions of pounds of concrete and rebar and then replaced 50,000 square feet of bridge deck two and a half days ahead of schedule, resulting in UIG earning the maximum bonus provided by SCDOT of $180,000—all which was distributed to the employees on the project who made it a success. 

United Demolition, Sunbelt Rentals, and Curtin Company were named as Pinnacle Partners on this project. Congratulations to United Infrastructure Group!

Toxaway Pedestrian Suspension Bridge Design Build Project: Lake Jocassee, SC - Crowder


Toxaway Pedestrian Suspension Bridge Design Build Project

Toxaway Pedestrian Suspension Bridge Design Build Project

After a bridge inspection revealed severe deterioration of various components, Crowder Construction Company with KCI as lead designer, was chosen as the best value team for Design-Build Repairs of the 224-foot Toxaway Pedestrian Suspension Bridge.  The bridge superstructure was replaced with fiberglass components while reusing existing suspension cables, foundations, and reinforced anchor blocks—allowing the bridge to be operational during construction while providing a safe solution that prolongs the life of the structure. The project was in a remote location on Lake Jocassee, where there is no vehicle access. Barges were used to float material, equipment, tools, and supplies to the jobsite, and a boat was used to transport workers 35 minutes to and from the site daily.

The remote location presented several challenges, including but not limited to there being no cell reception, therefore Crowder had to establish a satellite phone connection. Emergency personnel were brought in to establish a plan for support and evacuation, if needed. A complex scaffolding system had to be developed to safely inspect, remove and replace the bridge. The remote location also demanded a strict adherence to material deliveries, manpower allocation, and inspections.

An unforeseen challenge developed as Crowder removed the existing wood tower columns to replace with fiberglass columns. The wood columns sat much deeper into the concrete than anticipated, therefore requiring additional effort and inspections to remove the existing columns to ensure adequate support for the tower with the new columns. Crowder met this challenge with no additional cost or schedule delay.

Constant communication among the team ensured awareness of current conditions; kept the project safe without any incidents, on schedule, and within budget; and kept trail closures to an absolute minimum.

Congratulations once again to the Crowder team.

Best Utility Projects

Walhalla WTP and Raw Water Intake: Wallhalla, SC - Harper General Contractors

Harper General Contractors

Walhalla WTP and Raw Water Intake

Walhalla WTP and Raw Water Intake

Harper, GMC and the City of Walhalla, SC worked for four years to design a facility that would give the city independence from surrounding municipalities, produce clean drinking water, be easy to operate and maintain, and fit into the high-end neighborhoods on Lake Keowee. Included in the project is both the new treatment facility's industrial equipment and administrative operations, which contains the chemical feed equipment, electrical room, laboratory, and office spaces. Aesthetics drove the design so that the facility neither looked nor sounded like an intake structure, but instead its “boathouse” appearance fit in with the beautiful Lake Keowee community.

Challenges included ensuring that the clearwell, filter, and clarifier shared a common wall instead of individual structures as normally used; an incredibly steep slope to the shoreline which forced the team to perform extensive planning exercises during design; the use of a vertically-mounted split case with a dry well instead of a wet well (unique technology which reduced the amount of excavation originally required, saving time and money); and use of upgraded architectural elements not normally found on this sort of project while staying within budget.

A noteworthy mention is Harper’s use of the “soil nailing method” for the wall of the deep excavation near the water intake, which provided workers a safe area to perform their activities in a productive manner, which assisted in the project’s zero lost-time injuries and zero OSHA citations.  

Congratulations to the Harper team!

Town Creek Culvert: Greenville, NC - Trader Construction

Trader Construction

Pinnacle Partners

  • Hendrix-Barnhill Company
  • RES
  • Oldcastle Infrastructure

Town Creek Culvert

Town Creek Culvert

Town Creek Culvert is an existing stormwater conveyance draining approximately 250 acres in Uptown Greenville, NC that can trace its origin to an existing streambed prior to 1935. Due to the deteriorated state of the stormwater conveyance, failing street crossings, and flooding issues within the Uptown Greenville community, the replacement and upgrade of the existing culvert was undertaken. 

To meet the tight contract schedule, the project was attacked by working from both ends (north and south) of the project towards the middle. A tremendous amount of coordination amongst multiple utilities, contractors, and public businesses was undertaken to ensure a limited work site duration.

Among the many challenges faced by the Town Creek Culvert Project, the biggest was taking the existing utility infrastructure (water, sewer, electric, gas, cable, telephone, special fiber) and threading a new box culvert right through the heart of Uptown Greenville – similar to performing open heart surgery while keeping the patient awake during the process! Sewer, water, and gas mains were temporarily supported, worked around, or replaced. Electric, cable, telephone, and special fiber were temporarily supported and/or rerouted.  The older infrastructure within an urban environment forced daily interactions and planning sessions with utility owners to ensure that all utilities were able to be accommodated in the new project footprint.

The project was successfully completed without any injuries resulting from unforeseen utility strikes, and without any major loss of utilities. And, using value-engineering saved the City of Greenville $750,000.  The Town Creek Culvert project was completed on time, under budget and safely.

Hendrix-Barnhill Company, RES, and Oldcastle Infrastructure were named as Pinnacle Partners on this project. Congratulations to the Trader Construction team!

Greenville Water System – Hillandale Project: Greenville, SC - Langston Construction Company

Greenville Water System – Hillandale Project: Greenville, SC - Langston Construction Company

Langston Construction Company

Pinnacle Partners


Greenville Water System – Hillandale Project

Greenville Water System – Hillandale Project

The Greenville Water Hillandale Project is a 1.25-million-gallon above ground storage tank built on the slope of Paris Mountain to assist its established sister tank to better meet the needs of the growing Greenville area. Daily challenges on this project were abundant to say the least.

For starters, the only access to the small steep site was down a single-lane gravel drive which required tree pruning to bring equipment to the site. Much of the equipment was dropped off at a nearby intersection and then walked down to the site to avoid tree canopy damage. For safety and ease, crews had to maximize their work hours when it wasn’t raining just so they could better access the steep worksite.

Speaking of rain, Rainfall runoff was a major concern given the steepness of the slopes and the proximity of residential housing. The small working footprint only allowed for a 2,990-sf detention pond to capture site runoff and decrease its velocity before discharged. Therefore, the crew had to monitor the detention pond continuously during rainfalls to ensure silt from the slope did not reach the detention pond and decrease capacity. Blasting, which was performed in a way to minimize shock waves that could have impacted nearby structures and residences, was carried out without a single complaint from nearby neighbors.

While this project offered daily challenges given the danger associated with blasting activities, massive rocks handled on steep slopes, intricacies of soil nailing and shotcrete installation, heights of tank install, tensions of stressing cables and depths of vault installations, the 20,000 project hours resulted in ZERO first aid, lost time, or recordable incidences.

AECOM was named as a Pinnacle Partner on this project. Congratulations to Langston Construction!

Construction Excellence Awards

CAGC Construction Excellence Awards are recognized by the CAGC Pinnacle Award Judges as projects of distinction. 

Excellence Winners