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Awards honor outstanding use of concrete in Oregon, Southwest Washington projects

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Tillamook Creamery Visitors Center project was selected as the winner  in the recreation category of the 2019 Excellence in Concrete Awards.

Building booms in Portland and Seattle have created a trickle down effect for at least one industry awards program.

For the past few years, the annual Excellence in Concrete Awards event produced by the Oregon Concrete & Aggregate Producers Association and the Oregon chapter of the American Concrete Institute has experienced a marked increase in attendance.

"We've been growing each year, which has been nice," said Diane Warner, executive director of the Northwest Cement Council and a member of the committee that plans the awards. "In the past three years, we've reached over the 300 mark."

This year's event was no exception, with approximately 320 people filling the Salem Convention Center on April 25 to find out which of more than 60 projects entered in the competition had been named winners.

The flurry of regional construction activity can be seen in the wide range of projects that were selected to receive awards, from The Carson, a multifamily project in Portland's Slabtown area, selected as recipient of the "precast" award, to the Tillamook Creamery Visitor Center, selected the winner in the "recreation" category.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Outstanding precast concrete work on The Carson, an apartment project in Portlands Slabtown area, took top honors during the 2019 Excellence in Concrete Awards, held April 25 in Salem.

While a panel of judges made the main award selections, attendees cast their votes for the People's Choice award, which went to the Mill Creek Logistics Center, a project based in Salem.

During the awards event, a lifetime achievement award was presented honoring Dr. M. Keith Kaufman, who died in November of last year.

During his lifetime, Kaufman served as a senior bridge engineer at CH2M Hill, and as a chief engineer at Knife River for 19 years.

A registered Professional Engineer in Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska, he also served as an adjunct professor at Oregon State University, where he taught prestressed concrete design for 26 years. He led student teams that participated regularly in the North American Big Beam contest. The teams he coached won national championships in the competition in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2014.

"He was very well known through the technical and manufacturing sides of (the industry)," Warner said. "He was a great mentor."

The concrete awards began 39 years ago as a way to recognize outstanding use of concrete in building design, construction, paving and landscaping projects in Oregon and Southwest Washington. In order to be considered, projects must have been completed within two years of when they're entered in the competition.

The judging panel usually pulls representatives from industry trade associations as well as contractors and engineers. For example, Warner, who is a civil engineer, has served as a judge for the competition in the past.

"We want engineers on the panel in case there are technical questions during judging," she said.

The panel also usually includes faculty members from Oregon State University, University of Oregon and other local technical schools. Past panels also have featured professionals from testing labs.

While awards are the main focus of the Excellence in Concrete annual banquet, the event also offers an opportunity for the industry to drum up interest — both in concrete and construction. Companies buying tables for the banquet have the opportunity to offer a seat or two to students from universities. This year, for example, two of those seats were filled by students from OSU, Warner said.

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