Public works and architecture professionals across the nation are doing some great things, and recently four projects in particular were recognized for outstanding foresight and design. Here's a closer look.

Snohomish County Public Works/ Washington State Department of Transportation  The American Public Works Association recently awarded its first President's Special Recognition Award to Snohomish County Public Works/ Washington State Department of Transportation. Following a devastating mudslide in March 2014, the agencies worked to rebuild a damaged highway. But for a grieving community, their work was more than just a road repair project. According to The Daily Herald, Everett, Wash.:

The mudslide in March 2014 killed 43 people and buried the highway. The county and state coordinated eight contractors and hundreds of workers to get the key connection restored in six months.

They also worked around professional and volunteer crews that searched the mud until every victim was found. Balancing the technical necessities of building a road and the emotional toll of the disaster was deemed essential.

Woodbury University's Arid Lands Institute  Located in Burbank, Calif., the institute was recently awarded a $100,000 Latrobe Prize awarded biannually from the American Institute of Architects Institute of Fellows, for the development of a digital water mapping and modeling tool.

According to an article in Architect magazine, a sister publication to Public Works:

The tool, called Hazel, will be developed by the Drylands Resilience Initiative, which includes Peter Arnold and Hadley Arnold of the Arid Lands Institute, Rowan Roderick-Jones of ARUP's Water Systems Group, Deborah Weintraub, AIA, the chief deputy city engineer for Los Angeles's Bureau of Engineering in the Department of Public Works, and Leigh Christy, AIA, and John Haymaker, AIA, of Perkins+Will. The idea behind the project is to design solutions for harvesting water more locally, using techniques such as reclaiming stormwater, recycling wastewater, and conservation.

Foster + Partners The London-based architecture and tech firm recently won an international competition to design a public transportation system for the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. Designboom notes:

... the planned extensive transport grid will bring in a metro system- a new urban amenity, as well as a ferry, bus, and cycle network. through a process of densification and strategic planning, the aim of the project is to increase the public transport accessibility for the city’s inhabitants by at least 50 percent because presently, only 12 percent of jeddah’s population reside within a 10 minute walk from mass transit.

Peña Boulevard The main road leading to and from Denver International airport was originally built in the 1990s. In 2015 a replacement project using portland limestone cement was awarded the Triad Award by Public Works and its sister publications. Writer Shelby O. Mitchell noted:

With an impressive combination of collaboration and expertise, the project team successfully met the technical, environmental, and logistical challenges the high-profile job had in store.

What can your agency learn from these award-winning endeavors?