History of the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards

Marking its 8th year, the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards is making it easier for companies and organizations to achieve recognition for their work with a new self-nomination option. Let's look back at year's past and how it started.

History of the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards
The 2021 Overall Excellence Award winner also won First Place in the Flatwork category - the Aldilonda promenade around Bastia fortress, located in Corse-du-Sud, France.
The American Concrete Institute

Winning an industry award can be valuable for an organization in several ways. Gaining recognition from a trusted third-party builds credibility. A “win” or an honorable mention will result in exposure in media announcements and industry press, helping build awareness of the organization and positioning it as an industry leader. Beyond the publicity value, there are downstream benefits. Submitting a project for consideration to an organization that has a concentration of industry experts can launch a conversation that provides valuable technical feedback. Publicity for a company’s customer and their project can enhance business development. Finally, the visibility that comes with winning an award can improve employee morale and retention, as well as help with recruitment.

ACI’s Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards recognize projects that exhibit innovation and complexity, as well as showcase the value provided by concrete as a material. ACI is a leading authority and resource worldwide for the development, dissemination, and adoption of its consensus-based standards on concrete. ACI also offers technical resources, educational and training opportunities, and certification programs. In a global market where economic, environmental, and aesthetic demands are evolving rapidly, ACI’s Excellence Awards promote overall growth of the concrete industry by encouraging creative building solutions and the use of new technologies. The program has grown steadily in the eight years since it was introduced, experiencing a rise in project submissions, expansion of the judging panel, and an increase in local award opportunities.

ACI’s Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards cover seven categories:

  • Low-Rise Structures (up to three stories)
  • Mid-Rise Structures (4 to 15 stories)
  • High-Rise Structures (more than 15 stories)
  • Infrastructure
  • Repair and Restoration
  • Decorative Concrete
  • Flatwork

Each year, first- and second-place winners are declared in each of the seven categories, with one project selected to receive the overall Excellence Award. Winners are announced at an annual awards gala that takes place at ACI’s fall convention. Judges for the Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards program are independent industry professionals who have technical expertise in each award category, as well as domestic and international project experience.

How to Nominate a Project

This year, ACI is introducing an additional path for project nomination. Historically, the network of ACI chapters and international partners has assumed responsibility for submitting projects, and this is still an excellent route for project nomination. Any concrete project that has won an ACI chapter award is automatically considered for the Excellence Awards. Other projects can also be nominated by ACI chapter officials or an ACI international partner. For companies or organizations that do not have an ACI chapter or partner award program available in their area, self-nomination is a solution. For this option, a non-refundable $500 nomination fee is required. The fee helps cover administrative costs and allows the program to continue to grow.

“As the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards program grew, it became apparent that exceptional concrete projects in other regions of the world weren’t being recognized because of a lack of access to ACI Chapters or International Partners. For the awards program to truly acknowledge the best the concrete industry has to offer, self-nomination was a needed—and requested—option,” said John Conn, Director, Chapter Activities, ACI.

“The option for self-nomination is a marvelous enhancement of the awards program, ensuring recognition for the best of what’s out there,” said Michael J. Paul, former Chair of the International Project Awards Committee (IPAC).


  • Nominated projects must be of new construction, substantially completed within 36 months of the submission deadline.
  • A project description (300 words or fewer) that assists judges in their deliberations and is used in program and communication materials.
  • A description of how concrete was featured in the project (500 words or fewer). This portion of the application should address what makes the project unique or complex.

The History of the Awards Program

History of the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction AwardsThe 2015 Overall "Excellence" Award Winner also won the Low Rise Buildings First Place in the Low Rise Buildings category - The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations, located in Marseille, France.The American Concrete InstituteThe original suggestion for ACI to host a project-based awards program arose in February 2011, during one of the Institute’s chapter roundtables. The Washington state chapter already had an established Excellence in Concrete Construction awards program, and Bruce Chattin, Managing Director of the ACI Washington Chapter, wanted to provide another level of competition for projects entered in chapter and state award programs.

“We wanted to increase the number of submissions we were getting for our local program and providing a next level of national competition through ACI would be a good incentive. Giving submitters a way to ‘level up’ and gain national recognition seemed like a way to increase engagement. We also thought there would be a nationwide benefit in being able to showcase concrete construction from around the country,” said Chattin.

In April of the same year, the idea was presented to the Chapter Activities Committee (CAC) at its meeting during the Spring 2011 ACI Concrete Convention in Tampa, Florida.

History of the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction AwardsThe 2016 Overall Excellence Award winner and first place of the Decorative Concrete category the Palazzo Italia (Italian Pavilioin Expo) located in Milan, Italy.The American Concrete Institute“Establishing a national award program seemed like a good way to get synergy between ACI headquarters and its chapters,” said Dawn Miller, Executive Director, ACI Las Vegas Chapter, who was Chair of CAC at that time. “And it was a way to spur interest and elevate local efforts and submissions.”

A National Chapter Concrete Award Task Group was formed to assess the feasibility of an awards program and to research and develop a proposal.

“Developing a national award program was seen as a way to provide a framework for the local chapters and international partners to follow when creating programs of their own,” said Chris Forster, former CAC and National Chapter Concrete Award Task Group Chair, “and time has shown that this was a successful approach. ACI chapters and international partner groups have created award programs, or enhanced existing ones, to complement ACI’s annual event. This includes inviting speakers to their award ceremonies, investing in quality photography and more. Their efforts have been rewarded with increased participation and greater member involvement.”

History of the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction AwardsThe 2017 first place winner of the High-Rise Buildings category - the Embassy Lake Terraces, located in Karnataka, India.The American Concrete Institute“Local awards programs have definitely seen increased participation since the national program began; it is a big motivator. Team members on winning projects are excited to be represented nationally at the ACI gala. Some chapters even bring students to the gala, inspiring the next generation and showing them what they could aspire to be involved in,” said Miller.

While ACI already had an Honors and Awards (H&A) Committee at the time the national program was being researched, the development of individual award programs lay outside the scope of that committee, whose responsibility was guidance and coordination of various awards and honors subcommittees. The H&A Committee did, however, unanimously approve the establishment of a new project-based award program during its January 2012 midwinter meeting. A new Project Award Task Group was subsequently formed, with members representing several key ACI committees: the Chapter Activities, Marketing, Executive, and Convention committees.

History of the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction AwardsThe 2018 Overall Excellence Award winner also took First Place in the Infrastructure category - the Viaduct Over Riuver Almonte (a high-speed rail line) located in Garrovillas de Alconetar, Caceres, Extremadura, Spain.The American Concrete InstituteOver the next two years, the Project Award Task Group investigated the development of a project-based, Institute-level program that would involve ACI chapters. One of its initial goals was to establish the structure and scope of the award program.

“The task group decided to create award categories based on building type,” said Paul. “We reached consensus on this fairly quickly, as categorization by building type is a common and practical approach used by various construction award programs. Judging criteria were to rely heavily on the values ACI holds important, such as a project’s sustainability, social impact, and efficiency.”

By the time of the Spring 2013 ACI Concrete Convention, held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the task group was developing the idea of an awards gala to be held each year at ACI’s fall convention. Over the next few months, details for the Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards program were finalized and the task group’s proposal and financial impact statement were approved by the ACI Board of Direction at the ACI Concrete Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 24, 2013.

History of the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction AwardsThe 2019 Overall Excellence Award Winner also took first place in the Mid-Rise Buildings category - the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, located in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia.The American Concrete InstituteAt this point, the baton was passed to the board-level IPAC, which included the chairs of the Marketing Committee, Chapter Activities Committee, and Convention Committee. IPAC held its first meeting at the Spring 2014 ACI Concrete Convention in Reno, Nevada. The first award cycle was launched, and on November 9, 2015, at the fall ACI Concrete Convention in Denver, Colorado, the inaugural ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction Award Gala was hosted.

“The Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards program has become bigger and better than I could have imagined, even going international,” said Chattin. “It’s been very exciting to showcase construction projects from around the world. The format ACI has developed over the years has become a good model for states and international groups to follow, as well. In Washington, we’ve replicated several of their strategies, from redesigning our logo to aligning our categories with the national ones to styling our video similar to the one that’s created every year for the gala. ACI has done an outstanding job.”

History of the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction AwardsThe 2020 First Place award of the Repair and Restoration category wen tto the Conococheague Aqueduct Rebilitation project located in Williamsport, Maryland, crosses over the Cheaspeake and Ohio Canal.The American Concrete Institute“I am personally astounded—and deeply gratified—to see what our early task group efforts developed into. Today the awards program not only recognizes the exceptional use of concrete all over the world, but empowers ACI at the chapter and international-partner level,” said Paul.

“The program continues to grow, and with emphasis shifting to industry-wide participation, it demonstrates that ACI lives up to its motto: ‘Always advancing,’” said Forster.

About the author

John K. Conn, FACI, CAE is the Director of Chapter Activities for the American Concrete Institute (ACI). He has been with ACI since 2004 and is responsible for ACI’s worldwide Chapter Activities representing 96 chapters (60 domestic, 36 international), and 168 student chapters (61 domestic, 107 international).

Editor's Note: Find additional information of the past project winners 2015 to current at concrete.org.