Pyramid Awards

Logo - invitation


The Washtenaw Contractors Association (WCA) announced the recipients of its 21st annual PYRAMID Awards Friday night before a group of the county’s leading contractors, architects, construction project owners and labor leaders. Each of these prestigious awards represents exceptional effort in the areas of teamwork, service or innovation. To be chosen as a recipient of a PYRAMID Award, a nomination had to be truly outstanding. The recipients were selected by an independent jury composed of industry experts in the Washington D.C. area.

The PYRAMID Awards was a hallmark evening because it is the only event for which virtually all sectors of the construction industry in Washtenaw County gather together to celebrate the great achievements of the past year. Major sponsors of the event were Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 2, Laborers Local 499 – Employers’ Cooperation and Education Trust Fund, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, and the Washtenaw Industry Advancement Program.

The Washtenaw Contractors Association has been serving the commercial and industrial construction industry in Washtenaw County since 1949. Members of the Association include contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and professional service providers. WCA member services include business development, education, labor relations, workforce development, legislative advocacy and The Plan Room. All WCA programs are designed to improve both the success of individual member firms and the construction industry in Washtenaw County as a whole.

The recipients of the 2018 PYRAMID Awards, and the other nominees, are provided below.


To be selected as a recipient for a Best Project Team award, the project had to involve an extremely high level of cooperation between the Owner, Architect and Contractor, resulting in true synergism between these three entities. This cooperation and synergism must have resulted in an improvement in some critical aspect of the construction project (e.g. quality, budget, completion time, safety record etc.)

Best Project Team – Projects under $3 Million

RECIPIENT: Guardian Building Façade Repairs (Detroit)

  • Architect – SmithGroupJJR (Detroit)
  • Contractor – RAM Construction Services (Livonia)
  • Owner – Wayne County (Wayne County)

This façade restoration project included the removal and replacement of historic terra cotta units, repair of damaged brick, cleaning and recoating of intricate metal spandrels, and resealing of masonry joints on this historic 41-story skyscraper. Precise coordination and constant communication between the team members allowed complications to be resolved quickly and the project to be completed safely and efficiently.

(Representing the team L-R: Anthony Dorenzo (Ram), Andrew Sandzik (Ram), Mark Johnson (RAM), Dave Kramer (RAM), Shannon Haag (Guardian Building Mgmt), AJ Noto (Smith Group JJR), Jerome Misiolek (SmithGroup JJR), Enzo Pavone (RAM)



EMU East Circle Drive Replacement

  • Engineer – Northwest Consultants
  • Contractor – DeMaria Building Company
  • Owner – Eastern Michigan University

U of M Lay Automotive Dynamometer Installation & CNG Work

  • Designers – MA Engineering & A3C Collaborative Architecture
  • Contractor – McCarthy & Smith
  • Owner – University of Michigan

U of M Lay Automotive Dyno Lab Renovation & Interior Improvements

  • Architect – A3C Collaborative Architecture
  • Contractor – Aristeo Construction
  • Owner – University of Michigan

U of M Medical Science Bldg. 2 Clinical Simulation Suite

  • Architect – University of Michigan AEC
  • Contractor – A.Z. Shmina Inc.
  • Owner – University of Michigan

Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic Buildout

  • Architect – O|X Studio
  • Contractor – Oxford Design/Build
  • Owner – Oxford Companies

Best Project Team – Projects between $3 Million & $25 Million

RECIPIENT: U of M Art & Architecture Building A. Alfred Taubman Wing

  • Architect – Integrated Design Solutions (Grand Rapids)
  • Contractors – The Christman Company (Detroit)
  • Owner – University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

This LEED Gold certified project included renovation of 117,999 SF and an iconic 37,220 SF addition to this 1974 building. It created new classrooms, an expansive commons area, reconfigured studio spaces, and faculty offices, with specific emphasis on new collaborative spaces to transform the relationship between students and faculty. The team successfully developed strategies to overcome an initial cost estimate that was 16% over budget, unfavorable weather conditions, and the need to work within the University’s immovable academic calendar.

(Representing the team L-R): Brian Zybura (UM), Paul Yambor (Christman), Steven Taschner (Christman)



EMU Combined Heat & Power Plant

  • Engineer – Effective Project Corporation
  • Contractor –ENGIE Services U.S.
  • Owner – Eastern Michigan University

Hyatt Place Hotel

  • Architect – Meyers + Associates
  • Contractor – J.S. Vig Construction
  • Owner – RB Hotel Development

Racquet Club of Ann Arbor Renovation

  • Architect – Mitchell and Mouat Architects
  • Contractor – Phoenix Contractors
  • Owner – Racquet Club of Ann Arbor

Waterfront Events Center at Headlands Dark Sky Park

  • Architect – AECOM
  • Contractor – Spence Brothers
  • Owner – Emmet County

Best Project Team – Projects over $25 Million

RECIPIENT: U of M Athletics South Competition & Performance Project (Ann Arbor)

  • Architect – TMP Architecture (Bloomfield Hills)
  • Contractor – Granger Construction Company Lansing)
  • Owner – University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

The goal of the $168 million Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus South Competition and Performance Project was to provide some of the most elite facilities in the country, if not the world, and to allow U of M to host more Big Ten, national and international competitions. It includes facilities for the men’s and women’s lacrosse and track and field teams. It is also the home and training facility for the women’s crew team and men’s and women’s soccer teams. Unique elements include an indoor rowing tank for the crew team, and a hydraulically banked indoor track.

(Representing the Team L-R: Jerry Brand (Granger), Mike Marenghi (UM), Matt Bort (Granger), Rick Bibik (Granger), Bill Frederick (TMP Architecture), John Burhenn (TMP Architecture)




Ford Field Premium Suites Renovation

  • Architect – Rossetti
  • Contractor – Turner Construction Company
  • Owner – Detroit Lions Inc.

Genesee County Water Treatment Plant

  • Architect – AECOM
  • Contractor – Spence Brothers
  • Owner – Genesee County Drain Commission

MSU Federal Credit Union Headquarters 2

  • Architect – Daniels & Zermack Architect
  • Contractor – Granger Construction Company
  • Owner – MSU Federal Credit Union

U of M Weiser Hall Renovation

  • Architect – Diamond Schmitt Architects
  • Contractor – DeMaria Building Company
  • Owner – University of Michigan


To be selected as a recipient for a Best Subcontractor Award, the subcontractor must have provided an exceptional level of service that resulted in a significant improvement in some critical aspect of the construction project (e.g. project quality, design, budget, completion time, safety record, etc.) The improvement must have been documented, and the exceptional level of service supported in writing by the project owner, architect, general contractor or construction manager.

Best Subcontractor Award – Contracts under $500,000

RECIPIENT: Shamrock Floorcovering Services for Ann Arbor Allen Elementary School Renovation & Flood Restoration

What began as a flood restoration project at Ann Arbor’s Allen School, expanded into a total restoration of the 65,000 SF building. As a result, Shamrock Floorcovering had to coordinate extensive changes and revised work for both the insurance company and the school district. This required a tremendous level of paperwork and the occasional skills of a statesman! Shamrock’s logistical and management expertise, combined with their highly skilled installers, were essential to the success of the expanded project.

(Representing Shamrock L-R: Dennis Irish and Tom Psychas

Sharmrock-Allen SchoolSub-Under-Shamrock-LO-RES


  • Huron Valley Electric for Burton Memorial Tower Lighting Implementation

Best Subcontractor Award – Contracts over $500,000

RECIPIENT: Spence Brothers for HUB Ann Arbor

Spence Brothers concrete division performed all concrete work on The Hub Ann Arbor – a 12-story residential high rise. One of the greatest challenges was the schedule – underground construction was impacted by early implementation of frost laws which put the project 2.5 months behind schedule. By working long hours and using unconventional ideas such as pre-tying resteel for columns off site and using a specialty vertical wall panel system that could be set in place prior to pouring the slab, Spence was able to make up more than 40 days.

(Representing Spence Brothers L-R: Bruce Smith (with Presenter, Jerry Brand)



  • Detroit Dismantling Corporation for David Stott Building
  • Hardman Construction for Hub Ann Arbor
  • Acoustic Ceiling & Partition for McLaren Corporate Services Building
  • Acoustic Ceiling & Partition for U of M A. Alfred Taubman Wing
  • John E. Green Company for U of M Law Quad Utilities Upgrade

Best Innovation Award

RECIPIENT: Granger Construction Company for MSU Spartan Stadium South End Zone Addition

This project involved constructing a 25,000 SF addition to the Michigan State University’s Spartan Football Stadium to house new concession areas and restrooms. The challenge was to complete both design and construction in less than seven months. This aggressive schedule and the institution’s commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly practices necessitated innovative solutions, particularly for the portion of the project that was most labor-intensive – the plumbing. Use of a new product little used in the U.S. – Aquatherm piping systems – combined with pre-fabrication of piping assemblies involved a big risk but offered the highest rewards for cost and schedule efficiencies. The result was a 50% reduction in installation time for water mains and branch piping and a 30% reduction in the plumbing contractor’s man-hours. In addition, using Aquatherm’s pipes and fittings which are low-impact to produce, extremely long-lived, and fully recyclable met MSU’s sustainability goals for the project exceedingly well.

(Representing Granger L-R: Marc Arthur and Suzie Cherney



The Washtenaw Contractors Association (WCA) presented the 2018 Nelson Vander Hyden Award to Paul Dannels, FAIA, Principal of SDI Structures, Ann Arbor

Paul Dannels

2018 marks the 40th year that the Washtenaw Contractors Association has presented the Nelson Vander Hyden Award to someone who is a leader in both the construction industry and the community. It is one of only two awards the WCA presents to an individual. The Award is named after Nelson Vander Hyden who was active in the construction industry in our area during the 1960s and 1970s. With the presentation of this award, we commemorate the high standards of moral character, ethics and professionalism that Mr. Vander Hyden demonstrated during his years as a part of the construction industry in our area. In addition to being involved in the construction of many signature projects in Washtenaw County, he was committed to the improvement of the construction industry as a whole, and always found time to give back to his community.

Nominations for the W. Nelson Vander Hyden Award are solicited each year from throughout the construction industry, with the selection being made by a committee composed of past recipients. Vander Hyden Award recipients are selected because they exemplify the same high standards of professionalism and commitment to the improvement of the construction industry in Washtenaw County that were characteristic of Mr. Vander Hyden. These individuals are also highly dedicated, through personal involvement, to the betterment of the community as a whole.

Paul Dannels grew up in western New York, where buildings such as the Buffalo City Hall and Buffalo State Hospital captured his imagination during his teenage years. He studied engineering and architecture at the University of Michigan and worked as a construction engineer in remote northern Michigan before co-founding a consulting engineering firm offering structural design services.

He has conceived the structural systems for buildings designed by numerous aspiring and accomplished architects; including two winners of the internationally recognized Pritzker Award. His designs have three times been honored for their innovation by the American Institute of Steel Construction with IDEAS2 Awards, the industry’s highest honor for buildings constructed with steel. He is known for his ability to quickly grasp an architect’s complex design intentions and effectively render them in structural form.

Dannels has been very active in the American Institute of Architects at both the local and state level, including serving as President of AIA Michigan. In 2013 he was named to the national AIA College of Fellows, a distinction that is held by just 3% of AIA members. He is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Detroit where he teaches engineering principals in the School of Architecture and Design.

He has also been very active in the community, particularly with Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley where he has served as a Board Member, Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. As the “House Leader” for several Habitat homes, he directed all on-site volunteer construction efforts. He has worked with numerous other community organizations as well, including the Downtown Development Authority Citizens Advisory Council and the Huron Street Shelter Neighborhood Advisory Council, and served as Treasurer for both the Center for Faith and Scholarship and the Interfaith Hospitality Network.

In his spare time, Dannels is an avid bird watcher, making numerous reports of his sightings on eBird – the online citizen scientist project which provides scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with data about bird distribution and abundance.