College campus construction team accepts ‘Oscar’


“It’s always a pleasure working on a project where they don’t cover up all the steel.”

Steve Slonaker of PK Associates was among the engineers and architects honored by the American Institute of Steel Construction with a 2015 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel award (IDEAS2).

When introduced to the project of a college campus in Maricopa, Slonaker was given the impression it would be “real simple.”

Now the campus of Central Arizona College has won a handful of awards for its design and structure, the latest being the merit award of IDEAS2, considered the Oscars of the steel industry.

SmithGroupJJR, one of the biggest architectural firms in the nation, submitted the project for the award. Pat O’Keeffe, senior project manager at SmithGroup in Phoenix, was on hand Thursday to accept the award from AISC Industry Marketing Manager Larry Flynn.

O’Keeffe reminisced to his school days, when one of his first textbooks was the AISC steel manual. “On many levels, we’re grateful for this award,” he said.

“It was a great team,” said Chris Wodka, vice president of Finance and Administration at Central Arizona College.

That team also included general contractor CORE Construction and S&H Steel Co.

Flynn said one of the judges of the contest, architect Paul Endres, praised the thoughtful way the design was “simple and inviting” and how the colors and forms used fit in with the desert setting.

Among the criteria winning projects were judged on were the application of innovative designs, creative solutions, innovative uses of architecturally exposed structural steel and the aesthetic and visual impact.

CAC’s award came in the category of projects costing $15 million to $75 million. The finished buildings are only the first phase of a campus that is planned to spread out on 200 acres in the next two decades.