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ACEC: 2020 Nebraska Honor Awards

ACEC: 2020 Nebraska Honor Awards

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Here's a look at the eight winners of 2020 Honor Awards from ACEC Nebraska. The engineering awards program is designed to promote the profession and careers in conjunction with National Engineers Week, Feb. 16-22.

ACEC 2020 Honor Award winner

The 1201 Cass Commercial Office is an award-winning example of human-first design. 

1201 Cass Commercial Office

Alvine Engineering for Alvine and Associates

Category winner: Building/Technology/Systems

Currently seeking certification by the International WELL Building Institute, 1201 Cass Commercial Office was designed according to the WELL Building Standard. The owner began the project with the goal of WELL certification; therefore, the design team made that the main focus from the architectural layout and programming of the space to all MEP, fire protection and technology systems. Many of the systems required innovative solutions to achieve the owner’s other goals, while remaining in compliance with WELL standards. The lighting system consists of tunable light fixtures that balance electric light with daylight to provide adequate lighting while reducing eye fatigue and encouraging a healthy circadian rhythm. The underfloor air distribution systems used throughout the office allow workstation users to have control of the airflow at each desk, promoting the WELL benefit of individual thermal comfort. The owner not only wanted to gain a better understanding of the WELL Building Standard through design and construction, but also to share the lessons and innovation with others. To accomplish this, the building is a living learning lab with MEP and technology systems on display. Visitors can view the mechanical room from a window in the lobby, the underfloor air distribution system is exposed in one conference room, and the lighting lab features changeable light fixtures for demonstrations. Perhaps the greatest measure of success for the 1201 Cass Commercial Office project is the positive feedback from employees who take full advantage of the WELL benefits that promote a healthier lifestyle overall.


Tri-Faith Campus Abraham’s Bridge, Olsson

Tri-Faith Campus Abraham’s Bridge

Olsson for the Tri-Faith Initiative

Category winner: Structural systems

The Tri-Faith Initiative is comprised of three intentionally co-located congregations of the Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) on 38 acres in the Sterling Ridge development near 132nd and Pacific Streets in Omaha. The Tri-Faith Initiative’s vision called for three worship-education centers, all facing one another, and a shared Tri-Faith Center to serve as a communal gathering spot for programs, events and activities. To reinforce this vision, the initiative’s board of directors desired a circular boardwalk feature to physically connect the three places of worship over the stream referred to as “Hell Creek.” The Olsson team’s civil and structural engineers designed a 450-foot diameter feature that reinforces the geometry of the site, while its floodplain management and environmental specialists worked to make sure the structure was compliant with federal regulations. The result is an idyllic setting to cultivate community, respect and harmony.

Hastings Utilities — Aquifer Storage and Recovery Program Services

HDR for Hastings Utilities

Category winner: Water and Waste Water

At the beginning of this project, Hastings Utilities was faced with a difficult decision to provide a reliable long-term drinking water source for the community. The wells in the city were seeing high levels of nitrate and uranium. Traditional solutions included constructing a full-scale water treatment plant, which would cost more than $100 million and severely impact the community’s utility rates. The need to develop alternative solutions to provide clean drinking water with innovative management strategies to meet current and future demands was apparent. Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) is a complex, innovative and developing technology, requiring careful design and implementation to achieve desired results. In the case of HU, ASR is being used to treat high-concentration nitrate water and injecting it back in the aquifer upstream to create a water bubble that has a lower nitrate concentration. This clean water bubble is projected to move downstream to the city’s drinking water wells. The ASR is a subsurface storage technology, and is more resilient and protected than alternative and traditional storage technologies. The stored water is protected from evaporation, pollutants and extreme weather events. Advanced hydro-geologic assessment techniques were used for proper selection of the site and water storage zones in the aquifer. The project provides a long-term sustainable and cost-effective solution to the community’s drinking water needs.


Upper Prairie-Silver-Moores Flood Risk Reduction, JEO Consulting Group

Upper Prairie-Silver-Moores Flood Risk Reduction

JEO Consulting Group for Central Platte Natural Resources District

Category winner: Water Resources

The Central Platte Natural Resources District hired JEO to provide flood-risk reduction and resilience to the northwest area of Grand Island, Nebraska. The primary objective was to reduce flood risk to residential and commercial properties in the event of a 100-year storm. Estimates indicate that the completed project reduces flood damages by about $47 million from a 100-year event. The project’s secondary objective was to revise FEMA floodplain maps to accurately reflect the reduction in flood risk, including removal of about 500 homes and businesses from the regulatory floodplain. The structural flood risk reduction components include a large detention cell, four dry dams and a levee. The nonstructural efforts included a citywide public education event: the Flood Control Stroll.

In spring 2019, floodwaters tore through Nebraska, leaving many of its communities and farms destroyed, houses and livelihoods underwater, and roads, bridges and dams washed away. And yet, Grand Island, a city historically prone to extremely severe floods, remained dry. Its resilience was possible largely in thanks to the Upper Prairie-Silver-Moores Flood Risk Reduction project.

It is estimated to have prevented more than $90 million in damages; meaning the project essentially paid for itself almost four times over.


The Atlas, Lamp Rynearson

The Atlas

Lamp Rynearson for NuStyle Development

Category winner: Special projects

How do you wipe away the images of a sterile hospital, sitting amid a sea of deteriorated parking? Developer NuStyle had a vision of what the 1972 hospital and site could become. Instead of scrapping both, a high-flying redevelopment project now takes its place — one to inspire anyone who appreciates the unexpected. This 732-unit apartment project boasts new residential amenities, commercial and green spaces, a large detention pond, landscaping and a new connection to the neighborhood north of the project via the North Freeway Pedestrian Bridge. What do you name this truly unique project? The Atlas! Nebraska-based civil engineering firm Lamp Rynearson was an integral part of a collaborative team selected to put the project together. Researching the area’s aging infrastructure and designing for the project’s complex goals were elements of the team’s responsibilities. Knowledge of the City of Omaha’s sewer separation plan positioned Lamp Rynearson for success. 3D scanning, traditional survey and site design “set the stage” for a winning project. Multiple studies of the urban watershed, an area of land that separates waters flowing to the Missouri River, provided information to aid in the project’s layout. A Nebraska Environmental Trust grant, Tax Increment Financing and a City of Omaha alliance combined to secure the additional financial assistance needed to complete The Atlas, a public-private partnership. Who stands to gain from this urban redevelopment project? The neighborhood, the community, Boys Town Lied Learning & Technology Center, Creighton University, the environment, the local economy and the residents of this remarkable hospital-turned-home.

Papillion Creek Water Resource Recovery Facility Emergency Flood Services

HDR for the City of Omaha

Category winner: Special Projects

March 15, 2019, after days of heavy precipitation fell upon frozen ground throughout the Omaha metropolitan area, the levees adjacent to the Papillion Creek Water Resource Recovery Facility (PCWRRF) over-topped, forcing plant workers to shut down this critical wastewater treatment facility and evacuate. Within hours, a majority of the facility was submerged in more than 8 feet of floodwater, rendering critical infrastructure unusable. Even before the floodwaters receded, the city and HDR worked collaboratively to determine time frames for restoration of full facility operations, and together developed a unique process to quickly implement task orders under the city’s emergency procurement methods. The team faced extraordinary conditions on a highly complex site — including no access road, no power, raw sewage across the site and high river levels causing continued security and safety concerns at the facility. The team worked collaboratively to partition each of the highly complex elements into more manageable task orders and work items. The solutions developed by the project team were cost-effective and allowed for competitive pricing, even though there was a critical shortage of construction workers in the region due to widespread flooding. Primary treatment and solids dewatering were achieved about 1 month after the flood event, with pre-flood treatment achieved about 2 months after the flood event. This was an extraordinary effort that took 24/7 dedication from the city and entire project team.


UNL Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts Audio-Visual Systems, Morrissey Engineering

UNL Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts Audio-Visual Systems

Morrissey Engineering for University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Category winner: Small projects

Morrissey Engineering was retained to provided audio-visual systems design and commissioning services for the 52,000-square-foot Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts. Morrissey helped define the audio-visual system needs and use cases through meetings with faculty as well as industry influencers and advisory board members. The facility is designed to accommodate tomorrow’s technology and adaptability is taken to a whole new level. Current and emerging technologies are used together to create audio-visual systems that move the needle of possibility and improve usability.


UNMC Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Systems, Morrissey Engineering

UNMC Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Systems

Morrissey Engineering for the University of Nebraska Medical Center

Category winner: Energy

Morrissey Engineering evaluated existing conditions at UNMC’s Omaha Campus and developed solar array concepts that demonstrate UNMC’s commitment to be carbon-neutral by 2030. Morrissey Engineering followed project development with full design and construction administration for installation of nearly 1,500 solar panels atop three UNMC campus buildings. This project is the largest rooftop solar array in Nebraska and is supported by a partnership with UNMC’s electric energy provider OPPD.

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