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MSU, Prime projects earn top honors at construction banquet

Developer of the Year award is the second for Missouri State University in five years

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Last edited 1:01 p.m., Nov. 21, 2018

Missouri State University has done it again.

For the second time in five years, and fourth instance since 1985, MSU snagged the top honor at the Salute to Design and Construction awards banquet, held Nov. 13 at the Oasis Hotel & Convention Center.

At the 34th annual event, the university received the Developer of the Year award from the Springfield Contractors Association in recognition of more than $85.5 million in projects completed by its planning, design and construction department. Several major projects, including renovations of Ellis Hall, Glass Hall and Woods House, were among those finished by the university.

“This has been a tremendous year at Missouri State University. We had 86 construction projects completed in the past 12 months,” MSU President Clif Smart said while receiving the award on behalf of the school. “The campus is beautiful and ever more functional.”

Mark Wheeler, MSU’s architect and director of planning, design and construction, said the 86 projects covered a 12-month span, ending Sept. 1 of this year. He said the university has about 160 projects on the docket, with 64 of those active in either design, construction or a bidding phase.

“But projects for us can mean anything from putting a fire extinguisher on a wall to doing a whole new building,” Wheeler said.

MSU also was named SCA’s Developer of the Year in 2014 for completing 75 projects valued at over $53.3 million. Its two previous recognitions came in 2000 and 1987.

Wheeler started in April in his new position, succeeding the retired Doug Sampson. He reported to Sampson for two years prior as a project manager and architect. Before that, Wheeler worked at Dake Wells Architecture Inc., where he served as a consultant for MSU projects.

Sampson was one of five lifetime achievement honorees at the Nov. 13 SCA event.

With 17 on staff, MSU’s planning, design and construction office is primarily responsible for capital improvement projects on its Springfield, West Plains and Mountain Grove campuses, Wheeler said. Long-range planning is vital, he added, with project planning currently extending to 2021.

“Sometimes we get – kind of like the quarterback of an NFL team – all the praise or all the criticism,” he said. “It’s a huge endeavor, especially the larger projects. It really takes a huge collaborative effort across campus, and we then engage a lot of outside consultants and design teams to execute the work. Then, inevitably, we engage the contractors that bid on our work.

“All told, you’re talking hundreds of people that are involved.”

Collaboration was also a key in the selection for the SCA’s Design Team of the Year award. The companies behind a $12.35 million project for Prime Inc. got the nod among three finalists.

Honored for the nearly 63,000-square-foot Prime plaza and driver training center were:

• owner/developer Prime Inc.;

• general contractor Killian Construction Co.;

• architect GHN Architects Engineers;

• engineers GHN Architects Engineers, Miller Engineering PC, Lee Engineering & Associates LLC, Palmerton & Parrish Inc.; and

• interior designer Studio V Design LLC.

The northeast Springfield facility was designed to operate 24/7, incorporating space for refueling, tire changes and safety inspections for up to 14 tractor-trailers at a time, according to principal architect Brad Baker with GHN Architects Engineers. Before the awards ceremony, Baker told Springfield Business Journal the project included a driver-training course and a three-story office building with classrooms that feature integrated display technology.

Also, at the event, the Salute to Design and Construction Council recognized five design and construction professionals with its Lifetime Achievement Award: MSU’s Sampson; Jim and Kit Carson of Carson-Mitchell Inc.; Ed Textor, retired from Advanced Concrete Technology Inc.; and Wayne Towe, the longtime manager of MECO Systems Inc.

SCA Executive Director Megan Short estimated 550 people attended the Nov. 13 event – a record number for the ceremony first held in 1985.

“It’s been a really good year for construction. There’s a lot to celebrate,” she said, noting there were 100 more registrants than last year’s banquet. “That would be the biggest reason.”

The American Institute of Architects handed out a pair of awards, as Johnnie Faucett of Hartman & Co. Inc. received the Craftsman of the Year honor for the Prime Inc. campus expansion. AIA also honored Jerremy NeSmith of Dewitt & Associates Inc. as Superintendent of the Year for the “3G AHU” replacement project at Mercy Hospital Springfield.

The National Association of Women in Construction’s Southwest Missouri Chapter presented the Woman of the Year’s Vesta Award to Holly Goodin of Carter-Waters LLC.

Additionally, a trio of MSU teams was recognized for placing in the Associated Schools of Construction Region IV Management Competition. A total of 27 scholarships were handed out and the winners in the annual photo contest were announced.

Christine Temple contributed.

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